Do I squash the seed of leaving or just let it grow?
June 30, 2016 4:47 PM   Subscribe

I've been thinking a lot about my relationship. Maybe it was a mistake asking a question before, but now I can't stop thinking and debating, feeling guilty and exhausted about my relationship. Please advise for hopefully the last time I bring this up. The snowflakes are falling inside and it's a long post, sorry.

I wondered if you guys have planted this seed in my head or if it was quietly growing all this time. Every time I read back through the birthday thread, my stomach turns into knots and I get stressed out. There was a lot of things there that struck a cord with me, even though y'all are strangers on the internet.

After I talked to my boyfriend, confronted about the cake, and made a semi-ultimatum that I couldn't date someone who would not find treatment for their mental illness, his butt went right into gear. (Whoever said that he would cry to unintentionally redirect the conversation was right, but we pushed through.) Maybe not the best direction, but the only direction we could see that worked. He moved back to our small, podunk hometown back in the South within a week of that conversation. He would be able to stay with his family, save money, find a job (hasn't happened yet, but fingers crossed), have food on the table, and regroup. Unfortunately, there are no mental health services that we know of in this town, so that is a drawback. I'm already feeling the long-distance "absence makes the heart grow fonder" feelings.

But ever since the birthday incidence, I get a nagging feeling and my stomach ties in knots thinking about marriage (he brings it up more often now) or our plans after I graduate. It could be the stress from my internship...but it's definitely adding on top of it. I took one posters advice and "talked to more men" which made me feel sort of guilty because besides what may have seemed like flirting, I didn't even mention I had a boyfriend in that conversation! I feel a crush coming on for a local barista. This feels unfair to my boyfriend.

You may find it ridiculous that at 23 I am so attached to this relationship. I went to a friend's wedding recently (without him) and was asked "Where is your husband?". It's just a Southern-and-in-half-of-my-friend-circle thing that this is the time to get married. I should be married like a year ago. We've been dating since I was 18, and he being my first *everything*, I feel like throwing up just thinking of breaking up or seeing him upset. Other complicated factors: guilt of breaking up when he's depressed, his families and my families expectations that I am The Rock that supports him (my sister "jokes" that if I broke up with him, he would kill himself), feelings of alone-ness, looming marriage and grandchildren talk from his family, and one of these stupid "we're from different races and religions, let's beat the odds" mentality that creeps in sometimes.

Friends of mine say I've got it lucky. He's not like the other "fuckboys" that they've dated. Whatever he did before, girl, that's minor! Hold on to him, he's a good one. He is good, I feel like. I feel like I'm supposed to list the pros on here, so he's funny, shares my weird humor, into the same nerdy things, incredibly smart, kind and empathetic, calms me down, sensitive, pretty good with money, and I love him. I've loved him since I had my first beer at a college party. Our lives feel so intertwined. I've been asking myself if I've been taking him for granted?

Yeah, I don't know, I think I am looking for a script or direction in which to talk about this. Or just someone to spit out somewhat objective slaps to the face. Because my friends and sister give me all the reasons not to break up with him. I'm conflicted. According to my older sis, I'm just going through one of those 7-year-itches and it will pass.

When we talk on the phone, I just assume everything's ok with us and don't bring it up. He's emotionally unstable somedays. He has quite a few current family issues and I don't think it would be good to talk about "I'm considering that we should not be married, I'm not sure of anything at all, what should we do?" right now. Is this something that is mutually discussed? Or do people keep all these big doubts to themselves and then spontaneously combust?

We are supposed to see each other after I'm done with my program in September. Should I try to do my best to make it work long-distance before then? Is it wrong to keep dating and pretending it's hunky-dory, until he gets help for his depression, finds a job, is able to move out of his somewhat tumultuous family's place, and finds happiness again? Perhaps I'm focusing too much on myself and not enough on him. Maybe it's the guilt of feeling this way, but I just want to support him and help him out before I even think of leaving. Is that possible?

(And for the last note, I am going back into group therapy.) Thanks in advance. x
posted by socky bottoms to Human Relations (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He's safe with his family now. You are free to tell him that you want to date other people. You do not have to be his Rock. Please take care of yourself and your needs. Twenty-three is the time in your life when you figure out YOU. Go do that.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:16 PM on June 30, 2016 [39 favorites]

I always told my kids "Don't settle for the first minimally qualified person you find to marry". You are too full of doubt for me to believe this relationship is good for you. I recommend you keep looking - not for someone you can live with, but for someone you can't live without.
posted by summerstorm at 5:17 PM on June 30, 2016 [63 favorites]

It'll never really be the right time, so there's no point in waiting.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:21 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I haven't read your previous question, but if you're only 23 and you're having to put this much thought and work into the relationship -- not to mention all of the anxiety it's causing you -- then it's time to move on.

Length of history shouldn't be a factor in determining your present happiness, and neither should his good qualities if you're not definitely sure that this is a good thing for you (and you definitely do not seem sure about this). And pressure from other people should probably be at the bottom of the list of reasons to stay together -- they're not the ones who have to deal with the day-to-day of your relationship, after all!

You're young enough that there's still a lot of you that you have left to get to know, too. If you're focusing so much energy on making sure he's OK, how are you going to discover the rest of yourself?
posted by phatkitten at 5:21 PM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Don't stay with him because your friends and sister think you should. They won't have to live with the decision they are encouraging you to make.

You can continue to care for him and wish him the best while also moving forward with your own life.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 5:41 PM on June 30, 2016 [15 favorites]

You may find it ridiculous that at 23 I am so attached to this relationship. I went to a friend's wedding recently (without him) and was asked "Where is your husband?". It's just a Southern-and-in-half-of-my-friend-circle thing that this is the time to get married. I should be married like a year ago.

I don't find it ridiculous, but I think you should be careful about letting it decide your behavior. Look, so you know where I'm coming from, I've basically lived in New York City my whole life. I'm in my mid 30s, and my wife is from Arkansas. We got married like a year ago, which was totally normal for me, but pretty late for her, compared to her Southern friends. They all got married during or right out of college. And they're all getting divorced around now. It's crazy, it's like wedding season for my Northern friends and divorce season for her Southern friends.

It sounds to me like this guy wants to marry you, and like you don't want to marry him, but that it's hard for you to put it so bluntly to yourself. Because if you did put it so bluntly, you'd know what you have to do: walk away.
posted by Ragged Richard at 5:54 PM on June 30, 2016 [14 favorites]

I remember the cake question. I'm glad you stood up for yourself. I'm glad he's taking the first steps toward getting better (at least, maybe he is? I'd still wait for evidence of progress).

When you talk about your reasons to stay with him, what jumps out at me is an overwhelming sense of obligation. Your family wants you to stay with him, his family wants you to stay with him, your friends want you to stay with him. Whatever, they can date him if they like him so much. You don't have to stay with him for their sake. Nor do you have to stay with him for the sake of his mental health - that's his responsibility - or because everyone expects you to be married, or because you've already entwined your life with his for so long. None of these are reasons to stay.

Do you feel comfortable and secure with him? Does he support you as much as you support him? Do you feel like part of a team, like together you can work through anything? These are signs of a good relationship; these are reasons to stay.

Other answers have mentioned it, but it bears repeating: you're young and there's so much of your life and yourself ahead of you, and it doesn't seem like staying with him is allowing you to live for yourself. You're not a Rock, you're a living, growing being. You need air, light, nourishment, and room to spread out. Yes, this is a similar metaphor to the one you use about your thoughts on leaving. I bet when you visualize that mental seed, you see it growing into a flower and not a strangling vine.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:59 PM on June 30, 2016 [28 favorites]

When I was 20, the thought of losing my "first everything" sent me right into full panic mode. But one day I just had enough of the lies and the expectations and the total and complete lack of consideration for my valid feelings, needs, and wants. I left him. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be once I wasn't constantly worried about him.

It's been a million years now (okay, more like 26) and I've been happily married to a wonderful man who wants me to be me, who is totally my partner. But even if I hadn't found him, leaving that boyfriend was the best thing I could have done FOR ME.

You're so young. It shouldn't be this hard. You do not have to settle for good enough.
posted by cooker girl at 6:06 PM on June 30, 2016 [9 favorites]

The only regret I've ever felt after breaking it off with someone is that I didn't do it sooner. By the time I felt the way you do, it was past time to leave.

my sister "jokes" that if I broke up with him, he would kill himself

That is a really awful thing for your sister to "joke" about.

It doesn't matter how anyone else feels about your relationship. It matters how YOU feel. You're not happy with the current situation, and the only thing that lit a fire under your boyfriend's ass was you saying you were considering leaving him. Is that how you want the rest of your life to be?

I think you're worried you'll be lonely, and you probably will be for a short period. But I'll tell you this from past experience: it's a lot better being single and lonely than being lonely within a relationship where your needs aren't being met.

Break it off, and use your time in group therapy to figure out what it was that made you stay in this relationship where your needs weren't being met. I guarantee you will be increasing your chances of ending up in a much happier, healthier relationship after that. Best of luck--I think you know what you need to do. You are right to break it off with him.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:16 PM on June 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

According to my older sis, I'm just going through one of those 7-year-itches and it will pass.

That's how you wind up married to someone you end up divorcing in your thirties after two kids.

All your reasons to stay (besides the fear of what your new life will be like) are reasons other people have imposed on you. I'll bring up the quote about marriage that you hear a lot around here, because I think it's really valid: "if it's not an enthusiastic YES, then it's a NO."
posted by MsMolly at 6:18 PM on June 30, 2016 [30 favorites]

Just because your boyfriend isn't a total shitheel does not mean you have to marry him. It's good that he's started taking some steps towards getting his shit together but it seems to me like for you to want to stay with him forever you'd really need to see progress being made, not just initial steps being started.

I take you at your word that he's really uniquely special in some way (even though I don't totally see it from what you say) but is also broken, whether that's dealing with depression or something else. At minimum it's okay to ask yourself if you want someone who is an equal partner, has an ability to hold a job, keep their emotional equilibrium (at least somewhat) and get the help they need when they need help. And it's not easy. But you've done your share at this point and he's going to either have to be resourceful somehow or you're going to wind up with someone who you have to be a constant caregiver to. I wouldn't want that. It sounds like you don't either.

Just because you love him doesn't mean you have to marry him or, honestly, even date him. Hang out with a few more people who aren't so terrifically broken and see if you still want to try to make this work (and you may, and that's okay, but right now you've admitted yourself you have no idea what any other person is like). The idea that you might be taking him for granted is really not something I'd be entertaining. You can care about him but still take marriage 100% off the table until basic steps (getting a job, seeing a therapist) happen. Don't stay in a relationship because you feel guilty.
posted by jessamyn at 6:20 PM on June 30, 2016 [25 favorites]

I recently divorced my first wife- we had a lot of firsts together. And yeah, the separating and being single hurt and sucked. But I'm healing, and I have a lot more space to grow and learn on my own now.

Here's the thing about rocks- they can be endlessly supportive, stable, a bulwark, etc, or they can drag you down. You are the first kind, your boyfriend sounds like the latter to me. A good relationship needs both people being the good kind of rock.... Or better yet, the growing thriving that Metroid Baby talked about.

Its ok to be single at 23. Its ok to find someone else to make new firsts, new memories, new injokes with. Its ok to be single for a while.
posted by Jacen at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

If he's not the right person for you, you're not the right person for him either.
posted by bq at 6:57 PM on June 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Now would be the best time to tell him. He is safe with his family. It will most likely cause his mental health issues to worsen for a bit but they do for everyone going through a breakup. You will also feel bad but possibly really relieved after it's over. Take care.
posted by cairnoflore at 7:15 PM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Stop thinking about it so much. Hrs not there, see how it goes for a while. If you're still having doubts in a few weeks, it might be time to consider closing the door on this relationship. Luckily for you, you are presently in a position to give yourself the space to let your feelings come to the surface over a period of time without him being constantly in your life.

Sometimes the first person, or at least an early person, really is the person you should be spending many years of your life with. It's worked for me and Georgia, who were together at 17 and have been mostly happy for more years than our age at the time. (I say mostly in acknowledgement of the fact that the vast majority of relationships have ups and downs, not because there has ever been a time where I haven't been happier with her than without her. That's not to say there has literally never been thoughts of other possibilities in either of our minds) Usually doesn't work like that, though.
posted by wierdo at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2016

Something that may be a difficult side effect of this whole process: realizing you have outgrown some of your other adolescent relationships as well. Your sister's "jokes" are unacceptable, your "friends" are immature jerks who don't yet know how to not be shitty to women (nor do they know that they have no idea what goes on in someone else's relationship, and have no right to know either), and most of your peers are not really peers anymore.

Change sucks, and it can make us cling to things we have outgrown just to try to time-travel back to when everything seemed okay.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:46 PM on June 30, 2016 [12 favorites]

You have been a good and faithful girlfriend. You've taken him to the place where he's surrounded by people who will give him the love and care for the next step of his healing. Now it's time to let go and take care of yourself. Right now, you're not good together, he creates anxiety in you and you spend more time worried and upset by the relationship, so it gives you more unhappiness than joy. Leave him, knowing he's in good hands and work on yourself. Not only is it ok, it's necessary. Find your smile. He will be fine, really.
posted by Jubey at 7:48 PM on June 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

According to my older sis, I'm just going through one of those 7-year-itches and it will pass.

This is advice you give to your several-years married, 47-year old friend with four kids who is married to someone with whom she was at one point MADLY in love but has developed a crush on her intern. As a middle-aged person myself, I have to say that I don't really think that seven-year-itch is a thing when you're 23. This itch you have is probably because you've outgrown each other -- which, sure, happens to older people, but really happens when you're just graduating from college, to almost everyone. It's AGONY -- I remember it! -- but it's often the nature of your first real relationship.

Listen, everything you say indicates mostly that you are staying with him out of obligation -- to him, to your past, to your social circle. That doesn't do you any favors, but nor does it do HIM any either. HE deserves to someone who is with him because she adores him, not because she used to be in love with him, and still loves him in a general sense and also feels really obligated and guilty about breaking up with him. Sometimes it takes a while before a person is ready to pull the trigger to make it official, but to me it sounds like you've been emotionally breaking up with him in your heart for a long time now.

You guys will be okay. He has his family to watch after him, and you're not in the same place, which will make it MUCH easier for both of you. If it makes you feel better, I had a wretched, wretched break-up when I was about your age, with my first boyfriend. It sucked. I cried. I also got through it, dated a bunch of other people, and yesterday found myself thanking god I didn't end up with the boyfriend. Not because he's a terrible person -- he's not, AT ALL; I actually talked to him this very week --but because we were not right for each other. My life took me so many places I never could have gone if we'd stayed together and we're BOTH better off for it. So will you be -- both of you.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 8:04 PM on June 30, 2016 [13 favorites]

I say this as someone with long-term severe depression that's under pretty good control --- you absolutely don't have to stay with him because of his illness. Life with a mentally ill person can be very, very hard even if he/she is medicated and seeing someone for talk therapy. And there's really nothing you can do for him except to set boundaries for yourself, such as, "I need to leave if you're not going to get help." Saying that doesn't imply that you WILL stay with him if he does get the right help. It merely means that you want the relationship to have its best chance...and that the best chance might not turn out to be good enough.

My husband's long experience with the early years of my depression... I would never want him to endure that again. At that time he saw a therapist on his own and was encouraged to to be firm about what he needed and to walk away if those needs couldn't be fulfilled. Would you seriously want your boyfriend to stay with you if you had little ability to enjoy things you used to like doing, were absorbed in your own mind, and couldn't summon much hope for the future?
posted by wryly at 8:29 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

You just sound like it's time to move on, that's all. I am of the firm opinion that anytime you feel conflicted about something, the real answer is almost always no. It's like buying a thing, like maybe a dress. There's something you liked about it, so you tried it on, but you're just not sure. The print or colour is so nice, but maybe it pinches a bit under your arms, or the zipper itches. The salesgirl is all "Oh it's darling, buy it!" and your friend/sister you took with you thinks you should buy it too, but they can't tell it's poking you or itching you or whatever, and that itchy or poking or whatever is never going to go away. Don't buy the dress.

I've been through a few long term relationships, that were kind of itchy, and I told myself a lot of stuff about how love wasn't all sunshiny and that no-one is perfect for you, blah blah, life is a series of compromises, and then I met my husband. I have never felt (except when we've been in the middle of an argument!) anything less than completely calm and confident about our relationship. Never an itch. I'm sure your boyfriend is very nice, you wouldn't have gotten involved with him if he wasn't, but keep in mind how young you are, and how much your life changes in your twenties. I think it is completely unreasonable to expect that you and this boy will get married and have children. He's fine, you're fine, don't feel bad for it being kind of time to move along.
posted by glitter at 8:33 PM on June 30, 2016 [13 favorites]

At 23, you are still settling into being an independent person with perspectives and opinions and tastes and desires. Many of these will change over the next couple of decades, some of them more than once. Do not saddle yourself with a marriage to someone about whom you feel lukewarm, particularly not someone who is so unstable his and your family think of you, a 23-year-old woman, as his source of sanity. You are a person, not a rock, and you deserve better than someone who takes you so for granted (or granite, heh) that he doesn't even acknowledge your birthday and blames it on his mental health.

You are a person who deserves her own life. Do not be a rock. Do not be a doormat, either.
posted by gingerest at 8:54 PM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Rocks can also hold someone back. Being supportive and being there can sorta prevent someone from growing. You are so stable and easy, why grow? Sometimes the kindest thing is to trust someone to be ok without your unending support.

He's gonna be ok. And so are you.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:34 PM on June 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

I broke up with my first boyfriend at age 19. We were engaged (!). My mom cried. Everyone was confused. I barely cared, because I felt so relieved and free. I cried once and moved on. Don't make this choice based on anything but what you think is right for you. (Frankly, it's highly unlikely that he's the love of your life based on what you've written here.)
posted by stoneandstar at 9:53 PM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Your question reveals that you'd feel joy, freedom, and growth at moving on, and for good reason. Look at what's going on: he's moved back home, where he doesn't have a job, and where he can't work on his mental health issues with a therapist. You've moved to another city, where you have an internship and just got yourself in group therapy. He's moving backwards while you're moving forward. I'm not saying he's a bad person or anything, but your lives are taking you in two different directions. But suppose I'm wrong and that your lives are going in the same direction and he's just had a temporary detour. Well, if you broke up and he got his act together, you could get back together five years down the line or whenever your life paths again cross. But I'll bet that even two years down the line, you'll be amazed at how much the gulf between your lives has widened and how happy you are that you went your own way.
posted by salvia at 10:36 PM on June 30, 2016

For many years, you have been like a bird stuck in a cage. Month by month, year by year, you grew until now -- when you are realizing that you have grown so much that the cage is just too small, you can't pretend anymore. The bars of the cage are scraping against you, tearing your feathers.
Break out of this cage so you can stretch your wings and FLY as you were meant to.


“A ship is safe in harbor,
but that's not what ships are for.”
― William G.T. Shedd
posted by blueberry at 11:10 PM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Can you imagine growing old with him and being happy while that's happening? That's my litmus test.

(Anecdata - I was 41 when I got married. I didn't have pressure from family or friends before that, because I'd always been happy being single or happy in non-long term relationships, and they were happy if I was happy. I feel lucky to have had that support.)

Do what is right for YOU.
posted by finding.perdita at 1:40 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is this something that is mutually discussed? Or do people keep all these big doubts to themselves and then spontaneously combust?

Just going to address this one question.

I discussed my doubts. In my case, it helped the relationship survive (in fact I doubt it would have lasted otherwise). In your case, it may kill it - but, if it does, that's probably what the relationship needs.

There are exceptions, but generally honesty, disclosure, and communication steer relationships where they need to go. Which is sometimes the relationship graveyard, but at least they end up there in better condition than they would if driven there by lies, avoidance, and covering up.

And maybe by discussing your fears with him they will feel smaller and the worth of the relationship larger, like it did for me. But letting things fester doesn't make them go away.
posted by Cozybee at 2:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I remember your cake question!

Break up with this guy. Your life can be AWESOME. You are 23. You are growing up! You guys are growing apart. That's OK, but it is time for you to move forward now. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 7:22 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Here are some of the most important things I've learned about relationships from AskMe:

1. There's you and there's him and there's the relationship. You and he can share a lot and love each other a lot but you need you evaluate the relationship on its own, separate from all the personal things about each other. So, in that case, you need to evaluate stuff like - is your support of each other mutual (sounds like you always support him and he rarely supports you)? Do you help each other reach your goals? Is the other person your biggest cheerleader? Does being with the other person make your life bigger or smaller? (i.e., do you avoid doing things that you would like to do because of him? such as hanging out with friends or doing activities that you like to do but now you don't because he doesn't like them). It's one thing for everything to be great on those few occasions when you two are alone but what about all the other times?

2. If a person is dealing with mental health issues then it's that person's responsibility to deal with. Not to say that this person might not need help and support from friends and family but if the person isn't taking responsibility for the issue and the consequences from it then there's not much anyone else can do to truly make it better. In other words, the person needs to have enough self-awareness to recognize what's going on and enough motivation to make the changes he needs to. I see Mefites on here all the time asking questions like, "what can I do when I see signs of depression?" or "what structures can my partner and I put into place for when my depression gets to a certain stage?". So it is possible for people to have these issues and find ways to deal with them.

In other, other words, if the person is only seeking help in order to avoid losing his girlfriend (i.e., the person that picks up all the slack for him) then the girlfriend is going to have to go through this over and over again whenever it gets bad enough for her to want to leave.

3. Dating warning phrases. This is a great AskMe that has a list of red flags that others have experienced in a relationship. Read through it and see how many things have been said or done in your relationship.

4. This book, How to Be An Adult In Relationships is often suggested on the green and it's really great in the way it describes how a relationship between two emotionally healthy people should go. Pick up a copy and see how far off your relationship is from those ideals.

5. If nothing else changes, can you handle living with him this way for the rest of your life? Don't stay with someone because they say they want to change or because "they would be great if only . . .". Stay with him if he actually makes some concrete changes to become a better person because he wants to, not for fear of losing you. And marry him if, and only if, he really becomes the person you want to be married to.

6. A healthy relationship is one where each partner is fully capable of living a full, happy life on their own but chooses to be with the other person, not where one partner couldn't function without someone else taking care of their needs, whether they are emotional, financial, etc.

So, based on all that, this guy is not someone you want to be married to.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:52 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

thank you all for your thoughtful answers. I think I know what I have to do. It hurts, but I think I know.
posted by socky bottoms at 8:58 AM on July 1, 2016 [15 favorites]

I don't feel I have much to add to the excellent advice here. But I do want to say that in your 'cake lies' question, I advised you to ask your friends for advice on the situation. And reading your latest question and description of their advice, I want you to know I completely rescind that suggestion. Your friends are giving you terrible advice! "Hang on to him, he's a keeper" and "Ha ha, hope he doesn't kill himself" is just thoughtless, terrible advice and the best light I can spin on it is that they must have rather unhappy personal lives and just truly don't understand the situation could be better.
I'm truly impressed that you confronted him about the birthday screw-up and asked him to get help. That was a brave decision! There's nothing "ridiculous" about the intense feelings you're having about the possibility of ending this relationship. I remember my first love and still cringe when I think of how sad and lonely I felt after our (inevitable, totally necessary) break-up. He's your first love and that's always going to be very, very special for you, but it doesn't mean you should marry him. You might find this situation easier to handle if you think of it in very small steps, such as for the next few days you're going to focus on your job and schooling only. Take this time to practice lots of self-care for yourself and look for ways to enjoy yourself! You deserve all the happiness and success available to you, and so does he, but only he can find that for himself.
posted by areaperson at 9:01 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I just saw your update. It does hurt. I can only imagine! One thing that helped me in similar situations is to try to find solace in the fact that he was a good first boyfriend, and that made the decision harder, but it was still a good decision. It's wonderful that you have this good person as your first boyfriend and you shared these formative experiences together. You had a good relationship for a time and you'll always have that to remember well and build on in future relationships. I mean, it would be worse if your first love was a total creep who you ended up absolutely hating, right? Also.... I don't know if this is great advice, but when I ended it with this person, we framed it as "Maybe in the very distant future, we'll get together again. After we've been with other people and discovered our life paths." I don't know that I truly believed that at the time, but it did help me get over the initial grief. Twenty years later, I know it's impossible that we would ever be together again, but I think framing it that way did help the transition. Good luck.
posted by areaperson at 9:12 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

I am proud of you! If you need coping help once things are done, we are ready for you!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

There is no break-up month. No Toyotathon of heartbreak. The right time is always right now.

You can do this. Good luck.
posted by French Fry at 10:09 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

By reading this and your birthday issue, it seems like he only started bringing up marriage when you began your semi-ultimatums.

I don't think you have done anything wrong and you are right to feel the way you do. I just want you to know that I've seen quite a few marriages and divorces go down and The couples who got married only after one person threatened to leave them if they didn't make a change, ALL of them either ended up divorced OR they are now currently cheating voraciously on their spouse without their spouses knowing. Every single couple that I've known which has had this type of scenerio play out ended up like this.

I can only assume this is because these people only proposed out of fear and not really because they really felt they found the "one" they really want. I remember watching a cheesy episode of some comedy once and one of the characters was proposed to. She responded kindly with, "Just let me think about it a bit." Then this character's mother later tells her something like: When you really love someone and feel they are the right one, you don't have to think about it. If your response isn't an eager one- to jump up and down and say YES, YES YES! Then it's not right.

Personally, I think this is the ideal scenerio. Life isn't always ideal, but you're young enough that I think you should at least try to go for that ideal.

I don't think you should have to settle for someone who only decides to make basic changes for your relationship AFTER they get scared into it. A guy should be eager to make changes for the sake of the relationship. He shouldn't feel so hesitant to invest in it that he doesn't get up from his arse until after he realizes his comfort in having you might be at risk.
posted by manderin at 12:06 PM on July 1, 2016

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