How can I tell my jealous, insecure girlfriend I want to leave her for another woman without "proving her right"?
September 23, 2010 6:26 AM   Subscribe

How can I tell my jealous, insecure girlfriend I want to leave her for another woman?

In a previous post I asked for help with my girlfriend, whom, while sweet most of the time is jealous and insecure about exes, female friends, and me being in the company of other women in general.

Now, for more than a year I've been faithful, and I've tried to help her work through her issues (such as the jealousy over gifts from exes / female friends, her own self esteem issues, etc). While not perfect I hoped we could move forward with some work.

However, just as I feel I'm at the end of my rope after a 2 weeks of the same arguments about me being unfaithful, about secretly hating her, etc (little has changed since my original post).....I've met another girl, who shares common interests, is physically much more "my type" and who, by her own admission, is interested in me. Nothing's happened.... but she's asked me out and now....CRISIS!

My current girlfriend has always been jealous that I'd leave her for another woman, and, despite my year of attempting to dissuade her, it seems to be happening. I've been thinking long and hard about this and given the problems we've had and the advice from MeFi, i'd like to pursue it.

I really wish my current girlfriend could get over her jealously and insecurities, but, I feel that by leaving her for another girl, I'd re-enforce her own feelings of worthlessness, jealousy and insecurity.

HIVEMIND: I know this will break her heart, thats unavoidable, but, is there anything I can say or do to help avoid re-enforcing her negative feelings of worthlessness/ jealousy / insecurity? Won't this "prove" to her that she was right: that I *was* unfaithful, that she *was* "not good enough"?

TL;DR - I know leaving my insecure GF for another will break her heart, but how can I still et her know shes a good, worthy person...just not the one for me?
posted by bobby_newmark to Human Relations (50 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Break up with your girlfriend because you're not a match. Wait a bit to date this other woman (which is usually a good practice no matter what kind of relationship you're currently in). Don't put the two things together, either in your break-up talk, or in your mind.
posted by xingcat at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2010 [51 favorites]

Don't tell her you're leaving her for someone else? Tell her you want to end the relationship because it's not working, which it isn't.
posted by Danila at 6:30 AM on September 23, 2010 [11 favorites]

You don't have to tell her that you're dumping her for another woman.

Anyway, you're not her shrink. Not making her feel bad isn't your responsibility. And honestly, nothing you do is really going to work.
Won't this "prove" to her that she was right: that I *was* unfaithful, that she *was* "not good enough"?
Well if you factor the unbearable jealousy, then it's true that she wasn't good enough, right?
posted by delmoi at 6:34 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

You don't. You end your current relationship, then you start seeing the other woman.
posted by embrangled at 6:35 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

There's absolutely no reason you should tell her that you are breaking up with her so you can date someone else. Just tell her that you've thought long and hard and you don't think this is working and need to break up. You can't control her emotions and make it all better for her, but you can be respectful in the way you break up with her.

On another note, does this new girl know you currently have a girlfriend? I think it's a bit of a bad sign that she asked you out if she already knew that you'd been in a monogamous relationship for a year with another girl. Especially because of this, I agree with the other responses that you should wait a bit before dating new girl.
posted by Mouse Army at 6:40 AM on September 23, 2010 [10 favorites]

Do not, under any circumstances, tell her that you're breaking up with her to be with another girl.

At the end of the day, she WAS right. You weren't that into her, she wasn't "good enough" for you (from your perspective) or "your type." Forcing her to actually have that conversation with you would just be self-indulgent on your part, and humiliating and upsetting for her. She will derive absolutely no benefit from such a conversation. I'm sure a part of you wants to get it off your chest, but ignore that part. That part is an asshole.

Also, don't waste her time by telling her she's a "good, worthy" person. Your opinion of her ceases to matter the moment you tell her you want to leave, and saying those things will just make her wonder, "Well if I'm so great then why are you breaking up with me?"

Break up with her soon -- this week, if you can -- and no matter how many questions she asks you, DO NOT ANSWER THEM. She doesn't actually want to know. There is no useful conversation to be had.

And of course, all the usual breakup etiquette -- don't do it at your home or in a public place, don't give any indication that you might want to get back together later, don't give her any information other than "This relationship isn't working for me anymore and I don't want to continue it."
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:41 AM on September 23, 2010 [13 favorites]

Well it's not like you're having a clandestine affair with this other woman, is it? You've had interest from her which is enough of an incentive to break up with your current gf, despite the risk that things with this other woman may fizzle after two dates for all you know. Therefore, you're not that into your current gf. That's the problem.

You have a right to break up with her, and she has a right not to like it for whatever reason. However, telling her you're dumping her for someone else would just be rubbing it in. I wouldn't make it worse than it needs to be, but I also wouldn't try to make her feel good about being dumped - that isn't realistic.
posted by tel3path at 6:42 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

Dude, seriously... after reading your previous post, I was not a big fan of Jealous Girlfriend. But for the LOVE OF GOD, do NOT tell her you're leaving her for another woman! I've been there... it's crushing and horrible even for VERY secure individuals, which she ain't.

You probably would have broken up with her ANYWAY, even if OtherWoman hadn't entered the picture. The relationship didn't sound tenable. So here's what you do, assuming you want to escape with some degree of "not a scumbag" cred intact:

- Tell the other woman, "Listen, I'm more into you than a pregnant woman on a jar of Nutella. But I need to clean some stuff up in my life first. Can we get together maybe a week or two two from now? I will buy you a steak wrapped in another, lesser steak to make up for the delay.

- Break up with CurrentGirlfriend. DO NOT EVER mention the OtherWoman. Keep it strictly about YOU TWO - there's more than enough breakup material there.

- Once you're done dodging thrown household goods and insults, DISCREETLY take your new gal out for that steak.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:44 AM on September 23, 2010 [54 favorites]

HIVEMIND: I know this will break her heart, thats unavoidable, but, is there anything I can say or do to help avoid re-enforcing her negative feelings of worthlessness/ jealousy / insecurity? Won't this "prove" to her that she was right: that I *was* unfaithful, that she *was* "not good enough"?

Well, yes? You got close enough to another woman to want to pursue dating her while you were in a relationship with someone else. Your girlfriend was ultimately right; in my opinion, her jealousy was sending her a message she needed to heed, and she tried but ultimately tried to put her trust in you and not her own feelings, which is too bad. Hopefully your soon-to-be-ex will use this as an opportunity to re-evaulate her standards and learn to trust what her gut tells her.

None of those things are your responsibility to tell her, because you don't want to be part of her world anymore. Your responsibility here is to make a clean break of things, to leave her all alone so she can work on herself by herself. And don't jump right from one girl to another, if you can help it. This will not only prove respectful of your previous girlfriend, but will set a good example for your next relationship- you are proving to the next girl you will handle a breakup kindly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 AM on September 23, 2010 [25 favorites]

Seriously. I don't understand why people take full responsibility for other people's emotions. You were not unfaithful. You said as much yourself. You aren't leaving her for another woman. You're leaving her because you're tired of her bullshit and you've found someone more compatible.

What she feels is completely and totally on her, not on you. If she felt from the beginning that you would leave her for another woman and constantly harped on that fact until you finally got fed up and left (and there just happens to be a different person out there) then yes, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. In my mind, there's no other way any of her relationships are going to end until she gets over it.

I said it before and I'll say it again - you're not responsible for her feelings and reactions. you're responsible for how you treat her and what you say to her. Everything else is on her. I agree with other posters... don't tell her you're leaving her for another woman.
posted by patheral at 6:46 AM on September 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

You can't fix her or break her. You want to leave - so leave. You are not responsible for her preexisting concerns.

Now, if you lied to her and cheated on her and then she was jealous and possessive, you'd be responsible. But you've done the right thing, and you're just at the end of your rope with this relationship. So exercise your right to live your life and move on. The fact that you're leaving to date a new girl does not change your right to leave a broken relationship. Exercise that right.

How to do it? BRIEFLY explain your concerns and that you're done trying to gain her trust, and you can't be in a relationship with someone who will never trust you. She doesn't need to know that you're planning on dating someone else.

If she does find out later, do not feel guilty. You did not lie or cheat. You are simply exercising your right to live your life without the current girl.
posted by Tehhund at 6:48 AM on September 23, 2010

Or, as I said to a young man in Chicago about 5 years ago,

"You have to be single first"
posted by The Lady is a designer at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Additional reason to take a break: Even if you do not tell her about this new flame you have met (which you SHOULD NOT DO, because—natch—it's going to destroy her), if you do get into a relationship with this new flame, and there is any conceivable social link connecting you all after the breakup, she will more likely than not find out about your quick return into a relationship sooner or later. And, christ, will that make her feel like shit.
posted by Keter at 6:56 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why would you ever mention another romantic interest during a break-up conversation??

That is cruel.

In my answer to your previous question on this topic, I noted:

"It sound like you are asking us to pile on here."

Please break up with your current GF in the kindest way possible - make a clean break, avoid saying anything negative about her during the conversation. Resist temptation and keep out of her way in the future.

Other people have said you should take some time before getting involved again. I agree.
posted by jbenben at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

Wait a month between breaking up with your current girlfriend and going out with the new woman. Don't pretend you're waiting while secretly seeing her; actually take a break. Tell the new woman you're ending a relationship and need the time to regroup, but you'd be happy to take her up on it later. Ending a relationship to jump into another isn't good for the person who does it, either.

Assume that word of your new relationship will get back to your ex, even if you don't tell her anything.

You're not responsible for her feelings and you are under no obligation to fix her, but don't rub salt in her wound, either. If you still believe she's a good person and still want her to overcome her insecurity, the least you could do is not add fuel to her insecurity. She can and may get over it in the future, but actually being dumped for another person would be an enormous blow to anyone's self-esteem.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:05 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll go with what others have said about how you tell your girlfriend you want to leave her for another woman: you don't. Period.

What you *do* is acknowledge the fact that you've emotionally checked out of the relationship. You're done. You guys are not relating, and you can't have a relationship without the 'relate' part. Then it's just a ship, and the ship here is sinking and was off-course for a LONG time. The iceberg that sank it (hey, you met someone who's nifty! And apparently into you!) is completely irrelevant to the breakup conversation. If you're inclined, you can have a talk with her about how repeated conversations with the intent to convince you that she's not worth it are really self-destructive and tiring, but honestly? That wouldn't help, and probably would hurt.

Also agreeing with others to NOT date this other nifty lady right away. What's going on here is that you've been worn down for quite a while - your girlfriend has been insecure and needy and jealous and that kind of shifts the focus away from your great relationship (which presumably you had, once upon a time) and onto her issues, all the damn time. This other woman's interest in you is a nice ego boost, proof of concept that girls can be into you and have stuff in common with you and not actively be crazy at you: this is not the place you want to come at dating from. Trust me on this. It feels like a rush, it feels like a great idea, but you want to take a little break (maybe even two weeks - what's two weeks, right?) and sort yourself out and make sure you're not just moving on to the Next Great Thing. You want to be with whomever you want to be with because of how awesome they are, not because they're awesome compared and contrasted to the drama factory you just left / are working on leaving.
posted by lriG rorriM at 7:08 AM on September 23, 2010 [7 favorites]

It's not your responsibility to deal with someone's post-breakup emotions if you are the one who broke up. In fact, in 99% of cases, you're the worst possible person to deal with them.

Tell her it's not working out, she's a great person, but that you don't think this relationship is a good fit. Make it as clean and concise as you can, and then get as far away as possible. Then, if you want, go on a date with this new lady.
posted by mikeh at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2010

I agree that you don't bring up the new woman when you're breaking up with your girlfriend.

However, please let your girlfriend know that the primary reason you're breaking up with her is her insane jealousy! Let her know that this poisoned your relationship and made you disengage, and you've figured out that the relationship is just not going to work. Please, please, please do her the favor and be strong enough to tell her this (though gently). She needs to know that a certain behavior of hers is driving her partner away so that she can decide to take action (or not) before next time.

Do the right thing, do it as caringly as you can, and then go have a blast.
posted by widdershins at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2010 [8 favorites]

While other posters have given you a way to avoid showing her she's "right," I'm not altogether sure what you or she gains from this: you're still breaking up with her, and she's still going to feel insecure because she's alone. It might be better to reconcile yourself to what seems to be the case: you are leaving her for someone else, and that was a possibility all the way along (despite your protestations to the contrary to her). Her personality, especially the jealousy, made her unattractive to you, and that's that (and will likely continue to be that for her future relationships unless you point it, and perhaps even then too).

It seems worthwhile to note, too, that if she sees you with this new person, even a month or two from now, she'll assume (correctly) that you moved from one to the other. Best to confront the situation head-on, free yourself from the tension of duplicity, and hopefully set her on the road to personal growth.
posted by mllrstvn at 7:17 AM on September 23, 2010

Unless you're rather clandestine about it, what are the odds of her finding out about the new girlfriend after breaking up? Given a six month, no, wait, a year period after the breakup, what probability is there that she will find out that you are dating this new person?

Here's the problem: if she finds out that you are dating someone else within a year, given how irrational she's been about unfaithfulness in the first place, she will automatically assume, no matter what you say that you were cheating on her the whole time. You could not change that while you were dating and you cannot change that now.

So, your options are ...

1) Tell her nothing, break contact, do not be seen with the new woman in public for a year, make sure she does not stalk you, change your email passwords, hide everything on Facebook, twist the arms of mutual friends so they do not tell and hope this all works, which probably will not be successful, or ...

2) She finds out and translates everything to "he was cheating on me."

Then there's option three, and I am going against the grain here, because I think #2 is much more probable than #1.

3) Be honest. Tell her, "I really liked you but I am giving you what you want. I am being treated as if I am unfaithful so I might as well be that thing. If I must do the time, I am doing the crime. If you had not treated me this way I would not be running away. And I am running away from this behavior, not you, and not because I wanted to run to someone else. I have spent a year dealing with your jealousy and your mistrust. As far as I can tell, you will never stop being jealous and mistrustful. Leaving you and dating someone else must be what you want, since you constantly talk about it. I hope you will understand this and will not drive your next long-term relationship partner away in the same fashion. I want you to remember this."

And then go forth and date as publicly as you please. Why should you have to be discreet? You have spent enough time rearranging your life because someone else's feelings can never be appeased. I'm not suggesting you show up at the favorite restaurants the two of you had shared, new gal in tow, or make out with the new gal in front of the ex's apartment, but hiding your life is not a positive behavior in this case.

Does it sound harsh? Yes. Is it truthful? Yes. Is it honest? Yes.

Don't you wish the last person had been that honest with her before you two went out?
posted by adipocere at 7:19 AM on September 23, 2010 [11 favorites]

set her on the road to personal growth.

Don't you wish the last person had been that honest with her before you two went out?

His opportunity to talk to her about her jealousy issues was when he was engaged in their relationship and trying to work things out. It is not his job to "teach" her how to be a better person, particularly not when he's about to break up with her because she's no longer desirable to him. If he didn't have that conversation with her while they were dating, then I don't have much sympathy for the position he ended up in. If he did, then she already knows that it was a problem. She is probably not an idiot. She can figure it out herself.

As for whether or not she'll just assume he was cheating on her, that's a) one of many good reasons to wait at least a month before dating the other girl, and b) no excuse to be cruel and disrespectful to her now by giving her information she doesn't want or need.

The OP is not the injured party here. He is the one who is doing the dumping. He's been disssatisfied with the relationship for some time, but instead of ending it then he waited until something more attractive came along. And you know, a lot of people do that, and he's not the villain in this story, but neither is she. His responsibilities in this situation are to be as kind, as brief, and as unselfish as he can. I'm confused and a little upset by the callousness toward his GF in this thread.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2010 [14 favorites]

You can break up with anyone any time you like. There's no rule that you MUST stay with her. However, she was are leaving her for another woman. I think she will be better off without you.
posted by MsKim at 7:51 AM on September 23, 2010 [10 favorites]

Lord, give the girl some credit, people. It is possible to be insecure and still not decide, totally, that someone is lying to you when they say they weren't cheating. To be insecure and also self-aware and clear that the relationship isn't working. I think I've been that girl, and what it comes down to is that whether or not you are cheating, you actually are leaving her for another person and that is not somehow morally superior to cheating, to my mind. Cheating is bad because it betrays a trust and hurts people. Leaving her is also going to, in a sense, betray a trust and hurt her. It's not some magical line that's going to make this hurt her less. You have already checked out of the relationship. You are no longer present in it. And you are going to lie to her about why you're leaving, to some extent, and I think you should.

However, you are only doing all of this that because the relationship as it is sucks and really, really should end. This shit happens, unfortunately, and we tell these lies because it's kinder than the truth. If you are doing anything wrong, it's the whole lining up another girl before you were brave enough to leave a bad relationship. Which is kind of lame, but forgivable and normal.

It's not going to be easy for her, and speaking as that girl, you should break up with her as quickly as possible, in a public place like a park where you can sit far away from other people if she needs to cry. Set up a time to meet, meet there, tell her you need to break up (without explanations other than "this isn't working"), hug her, and leave as soon as you can without being mean. Then cut things cold (and let her know you're doing this for both of your mental states), in case she doesn't have the strength to do it herself. Don't speak with her for a few months, at least.

Good luck.
posted by hought20 at 7:51 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Quite apart from what your current girlfriend is going to think, leaving one person for another puts too much pressure on the new relationship. You tend to think you have to make it work, because look what you gave up for it. (Never mind that you probably stayed in the first relationship past its expiration date.) Tell the new person that you just broke up and are not ready to date exclusively again. If you even need to tell her that. Because really, it would seem kind of wacky to expect this new relationship to be serious right away, given how you've described it.
posted by BibiRose at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Old-And-Busted is trapped in a prison of her own making, and it's not your fault. You could nail your grievances in black and white to her front door a la Martin Luther, and she'll still believe that the problem is another woman. You can't stop that. That's why it's over - it's her. You couldn't fix it as her boyfriend, and you're certainly not going to make a dent in it upon leaving.

Just go with the above advice to not tell her about New Hotness. Then, leave, and don't look back. You'll know the truth. She'll still be a prisoner in her own messed-up head. Only she can ever change that.
posted by Citrus at 8:09 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

Thanks Hivemind...

To be clear tho: I did not engage in any scurrilous behavior. I've always been open and honest with her and have never cheated...but that being said I'm not about to blurt out "Oh hey, so I spent an hour having an amazing, engaging conversation with another girl last night and realized my feelings for you are on the wane". Im asking y'all now so I A.) Don't do something selfish and B.) because i think it's dishonest to continue when I'm not 100% in the relationship.

For a little more clarity: I didn't expect to have ANYONE say "admit to her "Im leaving you for another woman"" ... but as adipocere put it.... I want her to see that her jealousy and insecurities have driven me away without saying "I found someone else"
posted by bobby_newmark at 8:37 AM on September 23, 2010

There's a good link in this comment to a story called the bridge that gives a good perspective on this sort of thing.
posted by glip at 8:50 AM on September 23, 2010

Citrus, why are we calling her "old-and-busted?"

I was in a relationship with someone insanely jealous and insecure.

It was unattractive to me, yes. I was the last person on earth who would have ever cheated. But, I was not emotionally "with" him from the start. I was in a 'transitional' period of life and wasn't near ready to be emotionally there. And he felt that. He had reason -- from me-- to feel insecure.

He hoped I'd change and grow up and be ready. It didn't happen in his time frame.

NOW, I'm in a relationship with someone and I'm the one insecure and jealous. But for good reason. As wonderful as he is, and as great as our relationship has been, he has a lifelong pattern of lying so he won't hurt people.

I didn't become insecure until I discovered he never, after a year of us dating, told his ex-girlfriend (with whom he communicates semi-regularly) that we were together. He continued to keep his options open while communicating to me an entirely different message.

I didn't become the jealous one until I sensed something wasn't right. Women have incredible intuition (when they listen to is). (and so do men, if they listen).

Perhaps I should have ended things way back then, but the "but, I love you" messages and "desire to change" were so strong that I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Until I followed the trail of "little cheats" -- the ties to old girlfriends, possible girlfriends, online sex pals.....but no, he wasn't cheating.

I just want to say that there are reasons we become uncertain and insecure in relationships. And that trusting your intuition is what people need to do.

It really surprises me how many people are shaming "jealous girlfriend."

She needed to get out a long time ago and find someone with whom she could relax and grow a level of security. You needed to have the courage to let her go a long time ago (hindsight's always 20/20) and get on with it because obviously, you've TRULY been open to finding other women. If y'all don't feel safe with each other, be kind enough to let each other go.
posted by sleeping beauty at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2010 [15 favorites]

I want her to see that her jealousy and insecurities have driven me away without saying "I found someone else"

Sir, I honestly believe that you have the best of intentions, but that is not your job.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you want to make your girlfriend feel responsible for being dumped; what you've said and what you've favorited pretty clearly indicates this. I'm not sure how this benefits her or you, unless you want to feel completely in the right and guilt-free. You keep citing your fidelity as some sort of badge of honor, as though that were something extra you've done in the relationship and not the most basic thing that is expected in a monogamous relationship (which you haven't specifically stated yours is, but I think it's a safe assumption).

She has expressed jealously and insecurity beyond reason and beyond what is appropriate behaviour, but I'm not sure that you've helped her with this. It sounds like you continued to get frustrated with her behaviour and now that someone better has come along, you want to dump her. And that is exactly what she was afraid of.

Break up with her kindly. She will be upset, but she will get over it; you can make it easier for her by being kind about it. Telling her that she has "driven [you] away" is just cruel. If you are genuinely, sincerely concerned for her future well-being and think she needs to be aware that she should work on her jealously issues, then it's appropriate to tell her that the jealousy and insecurity put a strain on the relationship and made things difficult, but is that honestly why you're dumping her? If she hadn't been jealous would you not have been attracted to this other woman and decide you wanted to date her instead?
posted by Polychrome at 9:02 AM on September 23, 2010 [17 favorites]

If your relationship were working great, then, when this other woman showed up, you would have said "Oh, sorry, I'm not interested -- I'm taken." And that would be the end: when you're happy in a relationship, you're, well, happy.

The fact that, when this other woman showed some interest in you, you didn't just shrug it off but instead realized you find your current relationship lacking says very little about this other woman but very much about your relationship. It says your relationship is broken and unsatisfying to you.

This woman was just a catalyst, an eye-opener to make you realize that you're not happy with your current situation. You didn't cheat on your girlfriend. You're not planning to cheat on your girlfriend. Instead, you're just now sure that your relationship won't work out. That's the role this other woman currently plays in your life: an eye-opener, nothing else.

Don't think you're breaking up with your girlfriend for another woman. Instead, in your discussions with your girlfriend and in your own mind, frame the issue as you having realized the relationship isn't working.
posted by meese at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

@sleeping beauty: I was perhaps being a bit too flippant in referencing an old comedy bit from the movie "Men In Black II". It was my first idea for differentiating "Girl you're leaving" versus "Girl you're considering seeing".

It would be a great outcome if the soon-to-be-ex gets over her jealousy issues and finds a new, great guy. I agree, on retrospect, that terming her as "busted" is probably a bit too harsh. Sorry for that.
posted by Citrus at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

her jealousy was sending her a message she needed to heed, and she tried but ultimately tried to put her trust in you and not her own feelings

Yeah, definitely. I'm not so much in the camp of "Oh, she's got to be hipped to the fact that her jealously drove you away." I don't think we know nearly enough to know that that's true -- despite what I am sure are the OP's best intentions.

All kinds of signals have been flying back and forth between these two, and she may well have deep, profound TRUE reasons for feeling insecure. She may have seen the red flags rising, maybe be particularly intuitive, felt this day coming in an inchoate way and still can't really articulate it because she's young and wanted so very much to trust. And he wanted to be trusted. But. Still. It is a very painful lesson to learn. Sometimes insecurities and suspicions wind up, unfortunately, as Just Good Judgment, even when you don't want to believe in it.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are leaving her because you don't want to be with her any more, because your feelings have fizzled. You barely know the "other woman".

If you flirted with the barista at your local cafe for 5 minutes, and that prompted you to realize that you were ready to move on past your dysfunctional relationship, would you characterize it as "eaving her for another woman"? I don't think so.

All that said, please please please do everyone involved a favor -- including the "other woman", and don't date anyone for several weeks. Let the dust settle and the air clear.
posted by kestrel251 at 9:42 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Um, it sounds like the girlfriend was rightly insecure and sensed something false in your reassurances and couldn't trust her gut. You might as well tell her the whole truth. You were looking around, she got the sense she was temporary, and reacted unhappily throughout the relationship. So for the sake of her learning to trust her gut, tell her what you're doing so next time, when she meets a new boyfriend, she can trust her gut and go from there.

Maybe it saves face for you to admit that you didn't cheat on her, but the decent thing you can do is tell her what you've done and probably tell her that she was right to be insecure because of the vibes you gave off.
posted by anniecat at 10:03 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was with a man who was secretive, liked keeping parts of his life to himself, and liked keeping me on my toes - I was a jealous beast and often got very frustrated and we argued a lot.

Now I am with someone who loves sharing, trusts me, and values my comfort - no jealousy at all!

Maybe its not just her problem, or maybe you together cause the problem because you are poorly suited to each other.

I don't think you should say anything when you break up except that you are not working as a couple. You cannot assume she is a bad fit for everyone, you only know she is a bad fit for you. And two people can be wonderful as individuals but an awful fit.
posted by meepmeow at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2010 [6 favorites]

I agree that you aren't leaving her for another woman. But you're having the courage to leave her because of another woman. Up until that point, it doesn't seem like you'd done anything wrong. (Obviously we're only getting 1/2 of a story.)

If you had left because you were emotionally checked out of the relationship and because she'd driven you away, you could even say so.

But after crossing that point, you don't get to say go back and say it. It's just not fair. There is no logic behind this ruling. But if we were following logic, you wouldn't have waited for the security of the possibility of someone else before you were finally ready to pull the trigger.

End it more gently and don't try to win points as if the relationship is debate club, and next time, leave before you start looking.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

(I'm sorry - re-reading that when it came up in my Recent Activity - my tone came across as more harsh than I wanted. My point is the kindest thing to do is to leave and realize you both have learned things in this relationship; I was just pointing out what yours should be.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2010

No lessons from her. Just tell her it isn't working out for you.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:28 AM on September 23, 2010

How can I tell my jealous, insecure girlfriend I want to leave her for another woman without "proving her right"?

But, she was right! She was worried your eye would be wandering around while you were with her and you would become interested in someone else, and leave her for that person. That's exactly what happened! She was probably also insecure that you didn't have that much in common and you thought she was less attractive than other girls who were more your type, and that would lead to your eye wandering, which also seems to be the case. Seriously, how was she incorrect? I disagree with everyone who said not to tell her. I think you should tell her and be really blunt about it.

I just get the sense that you don't want to be the bad guy here and you also want to be the one who is "right." Am I off base with that?

You say the actual reason you don't want to tell her she was right is that you want to: "avoid re-enforcing her negative feelings of worthlessness/ jealousy / insecurity"

Honestly, I think you misleading her is just going to make this worse. It's just going to make her feel more suspicious and like she can't trust anyone.

Conversely, if you validate what she thought, maybe she'll do a better job of listening to her gut and picking relationships that are a better fit. Maybe next time instead of thinking "I feel insecure with him, like I'm not really his physical type and we don't have that much in common, but maybe I'm just paranoid, so I'll date him and just check up on him all the time" she'll trust that instinct and just move on from relationships where she feels like that. And just date guys where she knows that SHE is their physical type, that they have a ton in common, that the guy connects with her better than anyone else, etc.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:31 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

She needed to get out a long time ago and find someone with whom she could relax and grow a level of security.

I agree with the first part, sleeping beauty, but not with the second.

The insecure girlfriend needs to spend some time alone -- that is, not in a relationship -- and to develop a sense of self-worth. That will serve her well in future relationships, since someone with sturdy self-esteem is less likely than someone without it to either a) jump to the conclusion that they're being cheated on or b) stay in a relationship in which they are being cheated on, out of fear of being alone.
posted by virago at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

I know this will break her heart, thats unavoidable,

Not necessarily. I've definitely had relationships end where it seemed like my (or their) heart would break, and it didn't. If the relationship is really stressful, she might be sad but feel a lot of relief. Essentially, don't assume that you know how she will react.

"I want her to see that her jealousy and insecurities have driven me away"

Why? Seriously, do you know what you're trying to achieve? Ask yourself, really and truly, what you want to get out of a post-breakup conversation. Grab two or three sheets of paper, turn off your internal censor, and go nuts. Mean, kind, unrealistic, crazy, involving bunnies, doesn't matter. Write it.

Look over the list and see which, if any of these goals are:

1. Realistically achievable while one or both of you is in emotional turmoil. Hint: If it relies on both of you being calm and reasonable, it's not realistic.

2. Not reliant on mind-reading or attempts to control/regulate her feelings.

3. Likely to benefit you in some way.

4. Unlikely to harm either one of you.

5. Not about being right.

And just a tip: ABSOLUTELY DO NOT get into a conversation about when you met this girl, even if she accuses you of cheating. Shut your mouth completely. It doesn't feel good to be cheated on, but it doesn't feel good to feel like you've been ditched for a practical stranger, either.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:51 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and there's no point in proving her right or proving her wrong. I'm surprised to see people acting like her behavior was justified now that you're leaving her. Trustworthiness does not mean staying with someone no matter how they treat you.

As for whether she was paranoid or not--it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if her intuition was right or wrong. Her behavior was NOT okay and there is no need to punish yourself for it, or congratulate her for being right so that she'll feel better about herself despite her bad behavior. Insecure or not, she was obnoxious and unfair to you. That has nothing to do with trusting her intuition and everything to do with the way she responded to her intuition/insecurity/whatever. There's no need to reinforce it or encourage it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:58 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just to nth everyone:

1) Make a clean, honorable break. And by "honorable," I mean have a conversation with her that you would be willing to share, word by word, with the person you admire most in the world. This means no pettiness, no cruelty, no passive-aggressiveness, no attempt to manage her feelings for her.

2) Do not attempt to "show her" why or how her behavior led to this. If she in fact learns any lessons from your relationship and breakup, they are for HER to learn, on her own time, in her own way. You are not her teacher or therapist.

3) For the love of god, WAIT to start dating the new gal. Wait at least a few weeks, if not a month or so. I promise you, it will be healthier for everyone involved.
posted by scody at 12:30 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

oh, and I forgot to reiterate -- but I'm sure it should be clear by now -- say absolutely nothing about this new woman you've met. Your soon-to-be ex will almost certainly attempt to bait you into "admitting" you've met someone else, but do not take the bait -- that way madness lies. Just stick to the facts (and they are facts) that the two of you have ceased to relate well together and you are not happy in the relationship, therefore you are ending it.
posted by scody at 12:36 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

how can I still let her know shes a good, worthy person...just not the one for me?

Just tell her that, silly. And make it clean and fast and DO NOT continue to engage with her at all. No more contact.
posted by dzaz at 1:22 PM on September 23, 2010

Thanks all!

This is a rough experience for me, but your advice has helped me see that being TOO honest is sometimes cruel. While I do care about her well-being and would like to see her happy, I know that in every breakup it comes down to one person sometimes having to break the other's heart.

I think next time she's calm and not on a "world vs. me" trip (which makes it impossible to talk to her about anything), I'll take the advice above, go for a walk with her to a park, explain myself and how, although I did WANT it to work and I did truly care for her, things between us are not going to end like we want, and that at the end of the day we're just not right for each other, so it's best to move on.

Never fun, but sometimes necessary.
posted by bobby_newmark at 2:26 PM on September 23, 2010

In your previous post I picked up an undercurrent of anger and lack of respect toward your girlfriend, but I refrained from saying anything about it.

Be brutally honest with yourself. Are you angry because, somewhere deep down, you know she’s right? Your comments like “for more than a year I’ve been faithful” and this new girl is “physically much more my type” make me wonder if you were ever that into your girlfriend. I’ve been in your shoes before, and it says something that you reacted with anger and exasperation to her insecurities rather than shock or sympathy. Sometimes, anger is a defensive reaction when we know deep down that we can’t really defend ourselves…it’s more like anger at one’s self, or a blockage keeping us from having to acknowledge something.

If I were you, right now I’d try to be humble for a minute and consider that maybe your girlfriend was right all along. Does that mean you feel guilty for leading someone on? For dating someone casually when you were maybe desperate or lonely, but were never that into her? These are hard questions but they are worth examining. Ultimately, to make your peace with the whole situation, and learn from it, you’ll have to consider your own culpability. And to forgive yourself, you first have to be honest with yourself.

If it turns out that you examine the situation and see that, yeah, maybe you never were that into her, and you just didn’t expect her to be able to pick up on that as well as she did…well, it would be awfully hypocritical of you now to try to teach her that it was just her insecurity that made you break up. And in general, it’s never a good idea to “blame” any specific action or personality tick for a breakup…it leads to bad feelings all around and promises to change, etc.

My best advice for you is to just try to let it go gracefully. If you can admit to yourself that maybe she was right, and try to just be kind about the breakup, you can save yourself and her more pain. What would happen if you just stopped arguing with her? If you broke up with her, and then just agreed with all her accusations? Might she just get over it sooner, and might the drama go away for everyone involved? I mean, what do you have to prove to anyone but yourself, anyway? Let her think what she wants.

Anyway, just my 0.02.
posted by Nixy at 4:54 PM on September 23, 2010 [11 favorites]

So? How did it go?
posted by cyndigo at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2010


Better than expected, though she blames herself for it all.

Explained that I while I cared for her, I didn't think it was going to work in the long run, and that rather than drag it on, we're best to end it while our feelings for each other are still positive, even if it hurts now.

Then I went out and got spectacularly drunk.

We've spoken a few times and things are okay, just awkward of course. Hopefully we could be friends in the future, as I do care about her, she just wasn't the one for me, romantically.

Thanks MeFi
posted by bobby_newmark at 6:50 AM on September 28, 2010

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