Time to end a 7+ year relationship?
June 13, 2016 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Been together since we were kids, we're both now 25. The relationship isn't awful but it is a long way from perfect. Living together and trying to cope with past cheating, feel like I need to decide whether or not to give it everything and try to make it work or cut our losses.

I [M 25] feel I've reached a point in my relationship with my OH [F 25] where we need to decide to either give our relationship everything we have and make it work or cut our losses and break up.

To cut a really long story short, we have been together for just over 7 years. We met at school when we were only 17, we were long distance for 5 years while were at university and suffered all of the usual LDR pains. She cheated on me just before we moved in last summer. After a brief breakup we decided to give it another go, it felt like we had waited 6 years (at the time) to be able to live together and to fall at the final hurdle seemed like we wouldn't be doing our relationship justice.

We’ve now been living together for a year and it feels like it’s decision time. There are a couple of factors forcing this decision.

1) Is that she wants to get married and have kids. Unfortunately she has a medical condition that puts her fertility at some risk. She has been advised to try for kids before the age of 30 to give her the best chance of getting pregnant. (We only found this out this year) I know that she really wants to have kids and I feel like for her sake I need to decide now whether or not that’s something I could do with her. She only has 5 years before she’s 30 and if she needs to find someone new, fall in love, get married etc. in that time then every year is precious. Hell, every month is precious. I don't think I could do that to her to spend another year or so together just to turn around and leave her with just a year or two’s chance to fulfil her dream of starting a family with someone else.

2) Another reason forcing the decision is a practical one. Money. We’re reaching the end of our rent agreement and if we renew then we will be at least legally and financially committed to living together for another year. Neither of us are making enough to move out mid-contract. (Typical London, there’s no break clause.)

Why do I feel like this decision has fallen to me and not her and not us a couple? Well I have tried. I have tried recently to have a peaceful and mature talk about what is best for us both, raising all of these concerns. The problem is, that although she has made great progress since she was 17 when we first met, she is still a very dependent person. She’s said herself that she “would never have the strength to break up with me” and whenever I even discuss the remote possibility of breaking up she takes it a rejection. And she does not take rejection well. Every attempt of mine to have a grown-up discussion about our futures ends in a horrible argument. Even when I try to explain that a large motivator for me wanting to talk about this is for her sake. If I were being totally selfish then I could easily keep going with this relationship and make a decision when I am more sure.

For the most part our relationship is a very good one. We love each other and generally have a great time together. I don't think we would have survived 7 years without there being something worth keeping. But there are two major problems. The most important one is of trust. I can’t trust her. And sadly she cant trust herself. She’s cheated on me twice during our relationship. 3 times if you count a time where the other person stopped her. I know just hearing that many people will wonder what the fuck I am still doing with her. Well it’s never a one way street. I have never cheated on her but we did have a tough time being long-distance while we were studying in different universities. Like I said before, she is a very dependent person. It’s like a pathological need for attention from a guy and on occasions when she is away from me, such as on holiday, she seems to seek to fulfil that need from other guys. From seeing therapists the best we can understand is that this is a very deepest childhood issue that could take years to fix and may never properly go away. The reason I haven't left her is that I know she never intentionally hurt me, these events happened when she was alone and feeling isolated and I love her. It feels/felt wrong to give up on her because she was struggling with an issue that wasn't her fault. Despite all this I know this has taken its toll on me emotionally if not mentally. I don't know how much longer I can go on with reassuring myself that everything will be okay. She promises nothing will happen again. But of course she promised that last time. She says it’s different now that we have a stable home and it’s really really helping her…

Second major problem is what seems like a difference in life goals. She has the dream of travelling long term. Taking anywhere from a year to three or four years travelling and working in teaching and conservation. Noble ambition that I respect but I don't share it. I have a career and a job in London’s creative industry that I really love and I would hate to interrupt it for such a long period of time. She doesn't get it. She thinks I can come back and do my job at any point in time and that travelling for year or more is something everyone should want to do. She could be right but I cant help but feel that if I were ever to leave my job and everything I have worked for to go travelling with someone then I would have to trust that person completely. Which I don’t. Of course because of the lack of trust and her track record, if she were to leave without me that would mean a break up too. This long-term travel is likely to take place in a year or two’s time. Aside from the travel we both share the goal of one day being married and starting a family and pretty much everything else is exactly in line with each other. It’s just this issue of travel.

I have talked to her about all of this. It does not end well and gets nowhere. I feel like the decision lies with me. What should I do? Even if I have painted a sad picture, day to day it’s a great and loving relationship, but it has severe, underlying and future problems. Any advice would be hugely appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read my wall of text.
posted by sunbear to Human Relations (42 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't renew your lease together. Split up, both of you date others. If this makes you both appreciate what you had enough to really commit to it, great. If not, you've avoided prolonging a no-hoper.
posted by lakeroon at 8:32 AM on June 13, 2016 [20 favorites]

You can't trust her and have vastly different life goals? You do not sound compatible. Also she won't have difficult conversations? That doesn't bode well long term. You need to be able to talk about anything and everything. If it were me I'd break it off.
posted by FireFountain at 8:33 AM on June 13, 2016 [24 favorites]

It sounds to me like you've tried to talk and somehow become a mutual breakup decision. She's not down with that, but that's okay! Breakups don't have to be mutual; they can be unilateral. And the fact that you've tried to get her agree to break up means that you want to break up.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:37 AM on June 13, 2016 [10 favorites]

Make the break sooner rather than later, get it over with, so both of you can get on with your lives and adult relationships.

You know the relationship has serious structural problems, and that's basically the end of the discussion, so stop dawdling. Waiting isn't going to make it any better, what is it you think is going to happen if you just do nothing endlessly? Especially when you know you're frittering away her time to make a clear-headed decision about childbearing.

Look around you at how everyone spends their entire life with the person they started dating when they got a driver's license- oh wait. That basically never happens, does it? There's a reason.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:39 AM on June 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Everything you've written here indicates clearly to me that you should break up with her.

I think it's really hard for you because you love her and because you've been together a long time- but in the end those things don't mean that you shouldn't break up.
posted by bearette at 8:45 AM on June 13, 2016 [22 favorites]

getting together for real because you've spent so much time trying to get together is not a great reason to keep going in a relationship. you are looking for our permission to end things because she doesn't want to give you that permission (which makes me think she's not the only dependent one in the relationship). you are strong enough to do what needs to be done and to make that decision on your own.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 AM on June 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Basically the most positive thing you've written about this relationship is that it "isn't awful" but she cheated on you twice that you know of and would have cheated a third time if the other person hadn't stopped her? And you literally want different things out of life. You want to stay in London and work in your field and she wants to travel.

The end of your lease agreement approaching is a golden magical gift from the heavens; use this opportunity to separate. You will both be so much happier and better off.
posted by kate blank at 8:49 AM on June 13, 2016 [13 favorites]

I was in a five-year relationship within a similar time-frame. Ultimately, yes, it comes down to incompatibility between you two. You do not have to sacrifice your happiness and personal fulfillment out of longstanding obligation, no matter how you dice it. You 'want' to, of course! But at the same time, you know it is a betrayal of both your own needs and desires, and a betrayal of hers: frankly, I don't think anyone ever wants a partner not invested in them authentically, even in the milieu of codependency.

There is so much that changes from age eighteen to age twenty-five in terms of cognition, self-awareness, and emotive capacity, and if you were to both give each other space to grow in a context outside of a relationship, given how you've relayed it all here, I think you'd both be better-off for it. This is stagnation in the arms of a known comfort. It is scary. But both of you will find ways to continue to grow and learn into yourselves like you would not believe, newly ready to approach life yet again. I do not foresee this future working out without much turmoil, internal resentment, and a sublime level of sacrifice. These are difficult thoughts.

You sound like you already know quite truly what you feel, and it is generally a desire to take care of her that is holding you back. She will be alright. Do not put your life on permanent hold. Allow her take her own personal future into the fullest consideration.
posted by a good beginning at 8:50 AM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

What happens a lot of times in long relationships like this, especially ones that start when you're very young, is that they begin to feel inevitable. Like, you've been together all this time, of course you're going to stay together, that's just how it works, right? From my own experiences and talking to other people about this specific kind of situation, having all that time together (combined with the relative lack of life experience) makes you feel like you lose agency, like instead of having free will over your own destiny, The Relationship is the one calling all the shots now. A lot of crap and bullshit you'd never otherwise put up with gets paved over by the inexorable forward march of The Relationship.

This seems to be a really common situation folks find themselves in in their early 20s. It's hard to break through that feeling of inevitability and see the other side, but once you're there you'll probably start to wonder why the heck you let it go on so long. It's ok to break up with anyone for any reason. You don't need to come to a consensus on this.
posted by phunniemee at 8:53 AM on June 13, 2016 [35 favorites]

100% just move on. Trust and life goals are two of the most important things to be compatible on.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on June 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

The fact that you can't have a serious talk about the future of the relationship is the biggest sign that this has reached the point of no return. You can't fix things unless both of you are on board.

Only takes one of you to break up, though. Instead of trying in vain to get to a mutual agreement about breaking up, just break up.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:58 AM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yes, break up with her now. Don't postpone it hoping something will change or to spend time trying to convince her to agree to a mutual breakup. You have to dump her. She will be very hurt, but that's better than stringing her along for years (the remaining time when she'll be relatively fertile) or entering into an unhappy marriage. Be brief, relatively honest (maybe don't dwell on the infidelity as a reason), clear, and firm. Don't do a trial separation. Don't take a break. Don't hem and haw.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 9:05 AM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

The reason your conversations are going to badly is because she doesn't want to break up with you. It sounds like you hope if you bring it up enough times that she is going to go, oh yeah, we're totally incompatible, I'm going to move one, but she's not there. If you want to break up, you are going to have to do it yourself.
posted by florencetnoa at 9:07 AM on June 13, 2016 [15 favorites]

You can always seek a counselor or mediator for a group session. People can't always talk openly without an impartial third party guiding the process. The internet here will only respond to what you've written, and people will self-select whether they care to reply or not in what seems to be a systematic way (if you read Metafilter often, the trope goes that every questions about a relationship is a sign to DTMFA).

Even if you're leaning towards a split, a session with a counselor will help you do so responsibly. You both may even come out of it with skills to improve your relationships, current and future, whether or not the two of you carry on.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:07 AM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dude, it's 5 pm in London as I type this.

Just in case it's not clear enough from all the other posts telling you to break up, inform your girlfriend this evening that you will not renew the lease together because you've decided it was time to part ways.

And please report back tomorrow morning.
posted by Kwadeng at 9:13 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Day to day it’s a great and loving relationship, but it has severe, underlying and future problems.

I think you already know what you should (and want to, even if you're not aware of it yet) do.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 9:15 AM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

The biggest red flag that I see is the inability to have mature conversations and constructive disagreements. You really can't build a lasting, strong, and trusting relationship without an ability to talk about difficult issues in mature way and work through disagreements in a constructive way. Constructive meaning you don't take cheap shots to hurt someone, each person is open to accepting whatever responsibility they have for the disagreement, and you both are able to focus on finding a solution rather than keeping grudges and nurturing resentments.

You should do this break-up at least 60 days before the lease is up so you're both not scrambling to find new places. Don't let her continue under the assumption that you're both going to renew the lease and then break up with only a few weeks to find a new place. That would not be nice, cool, respectful, or a great way to end things at all.
posted by brookeb at 9:34 AM on June 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you do decide that you'd rather break things off, please don't get hung up on making the breakup mutual, like it's going to be somehow less painful. Breakups rarely work that way.
posted by sm1tten at 9:40 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Life lesson: You can totally negotiate a break clause in contract in London, my young Padawan. You need to be more firm with these unscrupulous agents. It's pretty normal to have a one year tenancy with a six month break clause. No agent is going to offer this to you upfront, you need to ask them. Otherwise they get away with just about anything, including signing your life over to them (I kid, but only just about). I have many years of dealing with rental agents in London, most recently being last year.

As for the more important bit, yes, break up. You have incompatible long term goals in life. You are not fighting through life together as a couple. Life is tough, it will only get worse. What if you lost your job and unemployment is at 20% and you had to go to another country to find work and pay the bills (hey Brexit!), but your kid was still in school and she had to remain behind so that the kid can finish the school year. What then? What if she cheats on you because she's lonely and totally falls apart? Or the other way around -- she had to go abroad to find work and cheats on you with another man, while you blissfully keep the house clean and running waiting for her to come back. Imagine: you have someone who loves you and fights for you and your family, takes care of the kid, keeps the household running. How wonderful is that? I only give this one scenario, but there are so many others. You deserve to have someone fighting your corner, looking out for you, someone you can trust. There are options out there.

End your tenancy (and with your new one as a single person, negotiate a 6 month break!).
posted by moiraine at 9:47 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

She wants to have a kid but she also wants to go traveling? Those things are not necessarily compatible. It sounds like you two are reaching the end of the line, as everyone else has said here.
posted by vickyverky at 9:59 AM on June 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

Even if you two were perfect on paper and felt perfect together-- which it doesn't sound like at all-- going directly from a teenage relationship to marriage and kids has some real problems. It can keep you locked in certain patterns which you would never have chosen for yourself as an adult. That said, it is particularly hard to break off that kind of relationship. As suggested above, a relationship started that early has an inevitable feeling about it. When I talked with people about breaking up with the guy I'd been with since high school, I actually said it would feel like breaking up with a family member. But that difficulty was probably one of the reasons we should have broken up. By the time we were married, I felt trapped on some level. I wouldn't be surprised if your girlfriend's behavior is a symptom of a feeling of being trapped, of resisting the inevitable.

However, in breaking up, please do not tell her what her behavior means and how it's good for her that you're breaking up. That's terribly condescending.
posted by BibiRose at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

It is time to break up with her and move on with your life. That you've been together since you were 17 is not the problem; I'm nearly 40 and very happily married to the guy who took me to both my high school proms. The problems here are that you don't want the same things, she cheats on you, and you don't seem to respect her much as an adult capable of making her own decisions. Maybe that's because she doesn't act like an adult capable of making her own decisions, but we're only hearing one side of the story here and the one thing I can tell you for sure is that I wouldn't want my partner talking about me the way you're talking about her. Why are you wasting time here? You know what you want to do.
posted by something something at 10:12 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

From what you have written, your real gut feeling is that you want to end it. What is holding you back is the idea of how intertwined your lives are, and wanting her to agree to this decision as if it were a mutual one. This isn't likely to happen.

I've been in a similar situation, and I remember the feeling of inertia and going backwards and forwards in my head. I also wanted my ex to agree with me about the ending the relationship. If I am honest this was because it would make me feel less guilty about not wanting to be with him anymore. I remember feeling frustrated that I would have to be the one to take responsibility and end the relationship when it was clearly not working for both of us. I found myself one morning at work, googling how to break up with someone, and I read something with the general message that once you know you want to break up, the kindest thing was to do it soon, and it really hit me for the first time. I did it once I got home from work that day.

Living arrangements were a bit complicated - I had nowhere proper to live for the first two months. For what it's worth, I am really glad I left when I did rather than stick out the lease.
posted by Nilehorse at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

You've been together so long that you must be very accustomed to making decisions together. This decision is different. You are deciding to make decisions by yourself. Even if you both come to that point at the same time, it is an independent decision, an uncoupling both in the outside world and in your interior life.

This is your first action as a single person. Her future is not yours to worry about. Be kind and clear, and break up for yourself.
posted by sadmadglad at 10:21 AM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking that you care about this person a lot and that you realize she's not very mature, and that when you let her go she's probably going to make some bad decisions that may result in losing a good shot at having kids. It's kind of you to care about this, but her bad decisions are not your problem and should not factor into your decision. You need to take care of yourself first. What she does with her life is her business, and I think it's going to be important for her to start taking ownership of her actions rather than blaming bad decisions on childhood problems and saying the things she does "aren't her fault". No one pushed her into those other men's arms. She isn't a child. She has agency. She made that decision. She knew it would hurt you. She did it anyway. Think about that when your resolve to move on is wavering. Best of luck.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

There's a lot here.

First things first, if she's cheated on you three times and you previously decided to stay together, why are you only now considering breaking up with her over it? Unless the last time she cheated was this weekend or something, clearly you already decided to stay with her despite cheating. (FWIW I think "she can't trust herself not to cheat" is super not great relationship logic, in general. She has to actually want to not cheat on you, or what's the point?)

Secondly, with everything else, it sounds like the decisions to be made are hers. You can't really spend your late 20s living abroad and traveling long-term and also marry young and have kids right away. I mean, you *can*, if you're up for eloping without friends and family, giving birth and raising a baby far from your home country, etc. But for most people who don't want to live life on the absolute fringes of how things typically work, you can't have both. I get that this is a hard choice. I'm in my 30s and always saw myself traveling all over the world and eventually living abroad or possibly just packing up and bumming around indefinitely. Then I fell in love with a guy who has a hard-won creative job and neither wants to or is able to move abroad with me while I follow whatever whim. So I've had to say goodbye to a lot of things I thought I would do eventually, and having kids suddenly feels so soon and frankly a little itchy. (Despite the fact that I'm in love and happy and want all these things.) I thought I'd be planning to quit my job and join the Peace Corps, not planning the ideal time to get pregnant so that it doesn't throw my career off too much. And yet.

I don't think you can decide on behalf of your girlfriend which path to pursue. This is stuff she's going to need to work through for herself no matter what you do. On the other hand, you don't sound terribly happy, and I don't think you should be bound to this person who may not share your goals on what sounds like several different fronts. If you want to break up with her, break up with her. Not because of x or y well-considered reason, but because you're not happy.

If you are happy, none of the rest matters. You guys will move abroad or you won't, have kids or not. You'll work together to decide the best course of action, and that will be more important than any advice we could give you.
posted by Sara C. at 11:23 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

You need to decide what you want for yourself. You can break up with her if that is what you want to do (and it sounds like it to me), but you cannot make her be happy about it and you cannot force her to be on board with it.

Even when I try to explain that a large motivator for me wanting to talk about this is for her sake.
Definitely don't tell her it's for her own good. That is a terrible thing to hear. Insult to injury sort of thing. I happen to agree that a breakup will help you both mature, but that's too patronizing to tell someone who wants to be with you.
posted by kapers at 12:37 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

phunniemee nailed it--it can get easy to get into a "sunk costs" mindset when you're in a LTR, and I think that is something that's magnified when you get into one young. Because if you break up, then you're single. As an adult. For the first time. It can be scary!

Dan Savage said something awhile back that really stuck with me. Sometimes when your partner does something really egregious, you HAVE to be the one who says "This is unacceptable" and initiate the breakup. It sucks that the onus is on you, but it sounds like she has some real growing up to do if she can't "trust herself" not to cheat, and by staying with her post-cheating (and not having productive conversations about it), you are communicating "this is acceptable" when it is very much not. She won't get better if she doesn't have to; let her go, for your sake AND for hers.

You can love someone very much and wish them well AND know that there is not enough common ground between you to make it work.
posted by helloimjennsco at 12:44 PM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

You apparently have your shit together, job, etc. and an interest in the big picture, while she is planning on having kids, traveling, and hopefully not cheating. She can't even go on vacation without feeling driven to cheat?

I think there's some missing information and detail here, but I think at the end of the day she sounds immature and trying to hopscotch from high-school, through college, into marriage and parenthood, and then travel the world. Is she working? Has she successfully launched her life from college? Is she a trust-funder? The history and proposed course of events sounds like adulthood-evasion to me.

It feels/felt wrong to give up on her because she was struggling with an issue that wasn't her fault.

Sorry, no. You don't get to run all over someone's trust and emotions because being alone makes your bathing suit area tingle. I have to wonder whether you're being gaslit.

I subscribe to "once a cheater always a cheater," but there are enough other red flags here to leave that advice on the backburner.
posted by rhizome at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

You may love her, but you're not in love with her. Break the cycle you've gotten yourself into and move on. Your relationship is comfortable and familiar, but it's not right for you. I think you know that. It's okay to let go.
posted by Ruki at 12:52 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

You say your girlfriend is so dependant on you, yet the second you go on vacation, she's sleeping with other men? Yeah, she's, uh, not that dependant on you. Trust me, she will be just fine. She also can't seem to be able to discuss your future together but has AMAZING powers of communication and persuasion when it comes to convincing you that her cheating is something she just couldn't help, and it's actually kinda your fault because she's so reliant on you.

She's a major piece of work and it's some Machiavellian level shit that she's actually managed to get you feeling guilty about even considering leaving her. How about you get angry instead? Because I know I would be. Dump her, but don't worry about her. If she manages to hook up as easily as she has so far, I doubt she will be single for long. Given that this break up has been on the cards for a while, she probably already has your replacement and future father of her kids lined up. Sorry.
posted by Jubey at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

You may love her, but you're not in love with her.

I was just about to post this. You can love very deeply and not be in love. You seem very stuck. Your long, intense time together has given her a special place in your heart that endures. It is so, so terrifying to jump out of a relationship you've spent gobs and gobs of time in; how awful to give up on something you've gave and sacrificed so much for, and wanted and fantasized about for so long. For it not to work out all this time feels crushing, and you just want to pour everything you can into it to save it.

Part of you knows there's a good chance she might fall apart or make some bad decisions away from you, and not get "what she wants." And you care about her, even if you're not in love with her. You don't want to see her in pain. But the "good" of being with you is like giving blood plasma to someone with an unclosed, gaping wound. It ultimately doesn't help.

You can't fix this. You've tried so hard, and I read your message as very earnestly caring and warm. And, you can't fix this. You can't fix her. You can fix yourself, and find love and be loved in the future.

I sincerely hope you find a way to be compassionate to yourself and find a way out of this situation. It will take time and courage to heal from it, but it will be time well-spent.
posted by Keter at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Edit -- I missed that others had already mentioned the sunk cost fallacy, but it sounds like that's driving quite a bit of your thinking here.

Regardless, I think that (as with many AskMes) the answer you want and expect is clear from your question. Or at any rate it's clear to us.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cut your losses! Cut your losses! I was basically in your shoes twenty years ago (no kidding), and I still wake up some mornings so relieved that I'm no longer in that situation. PM me if you'd like. So many of the other answers here are worth listening to.
posted by malaprohibita at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hey, i'm sort of you.

I'm 26, and i just got out of a similar relationship that started at a similar time in my life. It had reached the relationship-escalator point that yours had. We lived together, and our place had gone month to month after the lease expired.

The number one thing i focused in on was the communication issues, and the lack of actual meaningful action. I reached a point where i realized that even if we did get on the same page, did i really believe she was going to do XYZ or communicate better in blabla situations, etc.

The actual breakup was hard, and i felt really guilty for a while. But... Everything worked out, and somehow all the barriers and seeming dependency became non-issues when she quickly found an affordable apartment and started dating other people.

I realized in retrospect that the main thing i wanted to remember, and wanted to tell friends and other people in similar situations where you were in a long relationship that spanned across what is likely one of if not the most transformative periods of your life is... If you're spending this much time trying to figure out whether you should still be doing it, it's time to end it.

But seriously, the communication stuff and the lack of actual belief in followthrough really stuck in my craw. That is, in my opinion, one of those things that like contempt is a Advanced Relationshipping thing to work through, which is only really worth the incredibly amounts of effort and likelihood of no real progress if there's already kids involved and shared property and bla bla bla. DEFINITELY do not have kids with someone you feel this unsure about. Your instinct to move on and let her explore that possibility with someone else is an extremely sound one. Listen to it.
posted by emptythought at 2:05 PM on June 13, 2016 [9 favorites]

Dude regardless of what she wants, do you want to have kids with someone with whom you can't have a normal conversation about a disagreement? Who you describe as being "very dependent?"

I know that you don't. You want to have kids with someone who would be a capable parent and a good role model. Wish her the best and move on.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:17 PM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

From seeing therapists the best we can understand is that this is a very deepest childhood issue that could take years to fix and may never properly go away. The reason I haven't left her is that I know she never intentionally hurt me, these events happened when she was alone and feeling isolated and I love her. It feels/felt wrong to give up on her because she was struggling with an issue that wasn't her fault.

OK well relationships aren't about merit. It's not about who you "deserve" to be with. It's not about "giving up" on her because it's not a therapy relationship. It's supposed to be something where you love each other and you both proactively want to be with each other. Not a situation where someone basically can't leave because the other person is too fucked up.

And again, if this is a deep-seated issue that will take years to fix, but she needs to have kids nownownow...that is sad. But I really don't see any kind of maturity or wisdom in the attempt to get you to commit to kids before she's mentally healthy. And I think that kids deserve better.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:23 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

And I can hear you saying "yeah but it's just a relationship issue, she'd be a fine parent" okay well what about when you guys get in a fight and she "has to" invite some guy over while your kids are sleeping? What about her cheating on you and you finding it hard to be around her and your kids being miserable because you guys keep screaming at each other?

At the very least, if you two stay together, DO NOT commit to having kids any time soon. That is an enormous mistake, and frankly, the pressure that is getting involved on that end feels very manipulative to me.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:25 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Break up with her, for your own sanity and well-being. It will suck hard but it will be worth it.
posted by a strong female character at 6:55 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. I read every reply carefully, it's clear what I need to do. Thanks to everyone for helping me see things clearly, explaining stuff like the sunk costs and feeling of inevitability really hit home. I will break up with her this weekend, so that I'm able to move out immediately and she has a bit of time to collect herself before the working week restarts. This will give her almost two months to sort out some new living arrangements. Thanks again to everyone for replying, really helped.
posted by sunbear at 2:26 AM on June 14, 2016 [15 favorites]

Please let us know how it goes. Sorry I'm late to this thread - maybe you'll find the oft-linked to post on sick systems helpful as well.
posted by foxjacket at 7:30 AM on June 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

So some people have asked for an update and since the answers here have been so helpful to me, here's what happened to anyone who's interested:

I broke up with her on Saturday. It took hours and was heartbreaking. I gave her a chance to say anything and everything she wanted to. She did everything she could to get me to stay even said she'd never go travelling but that just confirmed for me that I had to go. I could never take her dreams away and I knew she was probably just saying these things out of pain. She eventually understood there wasn't any stopping this and she kept it together for the final few minutes before I left. Despite being incredible painful, it wasnt cruel or bitter so I am grateful for that.

I moved out the same day so it was relatively quick. It's only been about 24 hours since then. The pain comes and goes, sometimes it can be pretty suffocating but I know time will heal us both. Relatively speaking we are both doing okay, she is functioning well insofar as she's out doing things and focusing on work and generally keeping herself busy. Her sister will be coming to stay with her for a bit so that should really help her too and she's already sorted out a few viewings for a new place. I know all of this because we are in limited but very pleasant contact. In the coming weeks we will have to sort out final rent and bill payments and then we will be pretty untangled and able to properly make some personal growth.

I'd like to say thanks again to everyone for responding. I've reread the answers a few times when I'm in a lot of pain and doubting my decision and they really help to keep the long-term in mind and why I had to do this.
posted by sunbear at 2:49 PM on June 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

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