Determining if it's time to end a LTR and then the follow through
June 27, 2014 1:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently in a LTR relationship, we currently live together, have pets, and I'm starting to think the relationship has run it's course - but I've been in this mentality at least once a year the past few years, and it always passes.

I've been dating my girlfriend for the past 7 years, living together the past 3. I'm in my late 20s, she is in her early 30s. The relationship has always been filled with tough situations since about 6 months in, mostly stemming from her side of things. But as a couple, you always work through the tough times and offer support to each other, right? We make a great team when faced with a problem, we can talk about it, listen to each other's solutions or advice, then determine the best way to move forward as a team.

The only problem is, the past 3 years, the original tough situations (which were unavoidable) have subsided and we often talked during the chaos about how this was suppose to be our time. We were suppose to take vacations, long days in bed, etc. But none of this has come to happen, in fact, more drama, once again from her side has come into play where now she is trying to support her friends through a very trying time in addition, to a a new grand baby. I get it, there is only so much control you have in life and you need to support your friends through hard times. I've begged, pleaded, and argued for a simpler life where we can focus on us and regain our footing but that's not her personality; she is the type of person that would give the shirt off her back to her friends if they asked. It was one of the things I loved about her, now it just seems like I don't matter and am realizing that I am starting to resent her.

This trait also caused one of the main issues in our relationship which was what I classify as an pseudo- affair, her baby daddy came back into the picture 4 years ago. They went from not talking for 17 years, him being a dead beat dad that signed off parental rights, and her saying how much she despised him to her going over at 10PM on a Tuesday to help paint a kids room, and spending a significant amount of time at his house all within the course of weeks. She swears that nothing happened and it was only a friendly relationship but I’m not really sure what to believe. I trust her, but it looks awfully shady. I wasn’t perfect during this time either, this was during a very busy time in my career where I was gone for weeks on end for business, didn’t have a whole lot of time for her, and when I was around, I was sleeping or getting ready for the next phase of travel. It bothers me because this guy was the type of guy where he clearly just wanted to bang her, and she was either too naïve to see it or worse. We fought weekly over her relationship but she always brought it back to the fact that he was the child’s father and the child wanted the relationship so what was she to do. I always felt like I was between a rock and a hard place with this, and I know I absolutely resent it; even writing this I’m torn between saying fuck it, anger, and sadness. I try not to think about it too much.

The underlying problem is, I have never felt like I have come first to her. I use to attribute it to the tough situations, I was the support that she could always count on. The times we spoke of taking trips, bed and breakfasts, all that were never just talk to me; that's the life I wanted with her and thought that if we got through everything - sure relationships take work, but we were stronger and could face whatever life through at us. Now that the time is now and we're still not doing it, in fact, we're fighting more than ever, I just don't know how much more I can take. Most of the fights center around her lack of communication with me and the time she spends with her friends - for example, two weeks ago she left in the morning to go support her friend after saying she would be home by 5, I made dinner then it's midnight and not so much as a text or a response from her. Last night, we had a date that we drove separately to and the movie ended at 9 and well, it's 1AM and she's still not home, not answering her phone or texts. Both times she got caught up talking to friends and just didn't bother to tell me. Maybe she is having an affair, she doesn't seem like the type to but there is a part of me that honestly wishes it was just to give us a concrete reason to end it. This kind of situation happens on a monthly basis, I’ve tried telling her that I would appreciate a text or call letting me know but it never happens. Of course, I’m to blame here as well as the fights usually involve me screaming at her about not feeling appreciated as I’m sure she’s tired of walking on eggshells and I’m tired of everything. To me, the relationship has run it’s course; I use to think about marrying her, buying a house but now in my bones, I feel that it would be one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

I’ve been seriously considering ending the relationship for a while now, actually the thoughts have come up yearly but they always pass when things get better. I’ve never had this serious of a relationship before, so I’m not even sure how to know if it’s time to breakup or do we attempt to repair it through counseling? Despite everything, I care deeply about her and she is one of my best friends so I hate the fact of hurting her. She has helped me through some of my toughest times, and I do believe makes me a better person.

If we break up, how do I say that it’s simply due to relationship running it’s course and not anything with her? I am truly afraid that if tell her everything, I won’t stop and will cross a line that I never want to cross with it possibly turning to verbal abuse. There has just been so much resentment building up that I hate myself for allowing it to get to this point.

Finally, how do I follow through with the breakup and ensuring weeks/months that we may live together until one of us moves out?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total)
If you do decide to break up with her, the best thing to do in these situations is just leave (after the breakup discussion, of course). Grab what you can carry in one car load and head out. A hotel, a friend's house, wherever. And that will be the end of it; no phonecalls, no catching up, nothing.

As far as WHETHER you should end it, that's up to you but it seems like you've already made the decision. You don't need permission to break it off nor do you need evidence or a strong case like you were trying to prove something to a judge.

Don't make the mistake of getting caught in the sunk cost fallacy, especially when you're still young enough and uninvested enough to make a clean break.
posted by Willie0248 at 2:06 PM on June 27, 2014

This doesn't sound good and I think if you stay any longer than necessary it will destroy your self esteem.
posted by misspony at 2:06 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

You don't feel loved. You are certainly very close friends, but that is a very significant missing piece. 7 years is a lot of years, so you may well want to try counseling first to let her know you don't feel valued/appreciated/loved.

I would also ask yourself seriously if you will want to be in this relationship for the long term if you get the love and attention you understandably want. If not, then it is over for you and counseling will be a waste of time.

If this relationship is over, I'd honestly tell her you just are not getting what you need and that you want to keep her friendship, but move on to a different relationship.

Also, don't announce this and then figure out your living arrangements. Plan on where and when you are going, then tell her, and then move out. Of course talk to her about pets and possessions, but meantime also move.
posted by bearwife at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2014

If you do decide to break up with her, the best thing to do in these situations is just leave (after the breakup discussion, of course). Grab what you can carry in one car load and head out. A hotel, a friend's house, wherever. And that will be the end of it; no phonecalls, no catching up, nothing.

I would advise against this, presumably because she has a kid, and the kid, after 7 years, knows you.
posted by discopolo at 2:14 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

My gut reaction to reading this is, dump her. If you felt uncomfortable enough to fight with her over her baby daddy's friendship, she should have accommodated that discomfort in some way. Spending time with him alone when you made clear that you were uncomfortable with that is not ok. You controlling her is one thing - her completely disregarding your needs is another. Not communicating with you for hours about where she is is not ok. You have a life too, and you can't spend it waiting for her to get home - even if she's not cheating.

In what you've written here, you are trying really hard to see and present her side. Spend some time seeing and presenting your side, and see how this relationship looks.

Good luck.
posted by natteringnabob at 2:16 PM on June 27, 2014

Have you ever actually said to her, "I feel unloved and unappreciated and I need that to change so we can continue to move forward with our relationship. I feel this way because of X, Y, and Z. Can we talk about how we can address how I feel?"
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:17 PM on June 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Wait, she's in her early thirties and has a new grandchild? How old is her kid, and has that kid lived with you in the last few years?
posted by mareli at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2014

Based on math, her kid is at least 21 (based on the fact that 4 years ago, she began seeing her kid's dad again after 17 years).
posted by brainmouse at 2:24 PM on June 27, 2014

after saying she would be home by 5, I made dinner then it's midnight and not so much as a text or a response from her.

If this happened more than once to me, I would end it right then and there.

Maybe she is having an affair, she doesn't seem like the type to but there is a part of me that honestly wishes it was just to give us a concrete reason to end it.

You don't need an affair to end it (see above).
posted by Melismata at 2:36 PM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

She's not showing nearly enough consideration for you. Not even basic consideration, IMO. Disappearing for hours at night when you both were heading home from a date? Not responding to calls or texts? That's really rotten. That, plus devoting most of her time to maintaining other relationships and indulging her savior complex would be enough for me to know where I stood in the rankings. I need a partner who puts me first and who appreciates that I put them first. I'm not you, but what you described would not work for me.

Being taken for granted never feels good. When it's your partner doing it consistently, it's time to change things or leave. If you already feel in your bones that building more of a life with her would be a terrible mistake, it's time to make your exit plan (find a new place, disentangle finances, work on a timeline).

A lot of how quickly you can do this depends on how robust your financial situation is. But, start planning so that you have a general idea of how to move forward before you have the talk. It's ok to tell someone that there's a fundamental incompatibility and that's why you're leaving. No need to do a detailed and brutalizing autopsy.
posted by quince at 2:40 PM on June 27, 2014

It's understandable you don't want to have the responsibilities of being a step-grandfather before 30. But she is a grandmother. And her child sounds like he's young enough, he would really benefit from having a more active grandmother. It also explains why the baby daddy is more entangled in her life, even if he didn't have nefarious intentions.

You could ask for more from her. And she probably has some spare capacity where it involves her friends. But it also sounds entirely reasonable that a grandchild is a priority for her, and worth postponing her prior dream of a honeymoon phase. And it was probably a bit of wishful thinking to think that the kid turning 18 would be some of return to the child-free adulthood many people have.

You absolutely don't have to be on this journey with her. But I wanted to throw out a reality check that this is absolutely her journey now, and the likelihood of veering her towards your dream seems very low.
posted by politikitty at 3:02 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Her life situation isn't going to change. Go ahead and do what you want to do.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:34 PM on June 27, 2014

I agree with politikitty. It sounds like you have mismatched goals, find someone who wants what you want. You were under the assumption that the goals you were making for the future were together, however, real life showed up on your doorstep. By all means have a Come To Jesus talk with her but be prepared to walk away if she doesn't make any changes.

Good luck. Seven years is a long time, but she's clearly on a different life path as stated above and it doesn't sound like that's the direction in which you want to be headed.
posted by lunastellasol at 3:48 PM on June 27, 2014

I've been in this mentality at least once a year the past few years, and it always passes.

See if it passes again. Search for other things that might be a big issue for you know. Think about them some. Then see if the feeling passes after the appropriate amount of time.

We have obsessive or distracting feelngs when we don't want to think about something else. So see if there is that something else and if so, focus on feeling those feelings too.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:18 PM on June 27, 2014

Even if you are trying not to think of other issues... If you stay with this woman, she will continue to deprioritize you, and you will never have the future you really wanted, or even an approximation of it. If you've been wanting to leave off and on for ~years~ I take this as a sign that you are long term not satisfied, and will eventually make the break, only after having spent more years in a relationship that doesn't meet your needs.

Perhaps talk to a therapist about this by yourself.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 4:27 PM on June 27, 2014

It sounds like you are low on your GF's priority list. Now if you have kids, they are your kids for life, even after they grow up; and many people who have grandkids want to be active grandparents, so I can understand that she wants to devote time to her grandchild.

But you seem to be coming in last to all the people in her life - not just her kid and grandkid. And she disappears for hours without bothering to call or text? That's just plain rude. It is wrong to keep someone waiting for dinner without a call/email/text to let them know, unless one is lying unconscious in a hospital or held hostage by a gunman. All in all, your GF seems to be treating you like furniture. No wonder you are unhappy.

Does your GF know that you are unhappy enough to think about breaking up? Have you tried counseling? If the answer to these questions is "yes," then break up. You have no mutual children and no obligation to stay. If you have not had a come-to-Jesus talk with your GF or tried counseling, you might want to have The Talk and a counseling session - impressing on your GF that this is very serious, you feel taken for granted, and you are not getting your needs met. Then take it from there.

If you are not happy, and you do not want to stay, you don't need A Good Reason to break up.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:38 PM on June 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

You know what, if you're not happy with her any more, it's okay to break up. Because you've been together for so long, I'd be inclined to do some couples counseling so you can be as respectful and kind ot each other in the process as possible. Untangling a long relationship like this isn't the same as cramming some underwear in a duffel and heading off to couch surf at a friend's house.

Likely you have a mutual lease to deal with, furniture to split up, etc. (As always, I'm pragmatic about these things.)

I'd kick off the discussion like this, "Sherry, we've been growing apart for some time, and I'm afraid we just don't share the same goals in life any more. I'll always have love for you, you and your family have been an important part of my life, but I think it's time that we thought about breaking up. I think that we should see a counselor together to help us both process what this means, so that we can still preserve the love and respect that we have for each other while we sort out the details."

You may be surprised, in that she may feel the same way. There's no need to list your reasons, or to assign blame, sometimes, things just don't work out.

If it's possible, you can start looking for your own place, so if things do turn ugly, you'll have somewhere to go. Even if it's your buddy's guest room temporarily.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:30 AM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

A lot of people are talking about her poor communication with the phone, and they're right; that sucks. But dude, way to bury the lede. I think it's very telling that your front-page summary of your partnership is that you live together and "have pets" but don't mention that your girlfriend has children before the jump, and even in the body of your question, you don't talk about your 7+year relationship with your partner's kids at all.

This seems like the big elephant in the room of your relationship issues-- your girlfriend is the center of a family, and that's not something you want to deal with. The entire babydaddy paragraph really underlined this-- you refuse to stop classifying your partner's reconciling with the father of her child at that child's request as a "pseudo affair", despite knowing that this wasn't a sexual or romantic encounter. You talk about her hopes that he may have matured from a deadbeat jerk-- a teenage deadbeat jerk, if they're around the same age-- into someone who is capable of being a positive presence in their shared child's life, instead of a painful blank spot, with anger and suspicion.

I think your inability to see this situation through anything other than a lens of sexual jealousy means that you are not emotionally mature enough to be in this kind of complicated, blended-family relationship.

And you know what? That's fine. That is actually okay. You're in your late twenties. Many people your age haven't even started thinking about having their own families yet, never mind taking on the complex responsibilities of being a step-grandparent, which seems to be the role you're chafing against. You're longing for a young-adult super romantic relationship where the romance between two partners is central, and that just does not seem to be the kind of life your girlfriend has right now, or, frankly, could live without being massively irresponsible and neglecting her family. There's no need for commenters to vilify this woman as having a "savior complex." She has kids. She had kids when she was very young. She has a complex relationship with her ex. She has serious relationships with her friends and community. This isn't "drama", this is her life.

It's okay for her to have that life, and it's okay for you, OP, to want something different for yourself, and to break up with her and pursue the life that will meet your needs and make you happy. You don't need her to cheat, you don't need to scream at her, you don't need to feel guilty because she's generous and has helped you, you don't need for her OR you to somehow be a bad person to understand that the two of you have very different priorities and needs and that you may want and value very different things out of life.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:12 PM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

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