Should I leave my kind, loyal boyfriend that I don't love??
September 4, 2020 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I feel so desperate and I don’t know what to do. I was wondering if anyone here could give me some advice. I am a woman in my mid thirties and I have a boyfriend who I love but I am not in love with…

He is a very kind person, very patient, accepting of me, of my problems, my bad days, my good days, he is truly a very good friend who I can trust and rely on. We get along well and we always treat each other with respect and affection but there are many problems in our relationship too. He is a very emotionally cold person; he never expresses his emotions nor reacts in an emotional way to mine. He is not the romantic type; he is very rational and cold, in his manners, his behaviour. He also doesn't know me very well because he is not curious so he never asks deep or personal questions. Our conversations are quite mundane and we mainly talk about every day life issues. There is another problem; I don’t enjoy having sex with him so we rarely have sex. I’m bored in this relationship and I don’t look forward to a future together.

Because of this reason, I broke up with him before. During this break, I met a man who broke my heart. This man has mental health problems, namely, borderline personality disorder, but I was not aware of it at the beginning and I didn’t even know about the disorder. He ended the relationship abruptly and moved to the other side of the world after pondering it for some months. This relationship left me heart-broken and emotionally vulnerable and I felt so sad and alone that I decided to rekindle the relationship with my ex. I know that that is not a reason to get into a relationship but at the time it seemed like it was. I just wanted to go "somewhere safe and familiar". Now I’m back into the same problems I first ran away from and I feel very bad. I want to leave this relationship but I feel guilty because I know this is going to cause him great suffering. I am also afraid of not finding someone suitable for me afterwards. I am still quite good looking and I have a nice personality. I am good woman and treat people with kindness, so there are always guys that are interested in me but I’m not sure that I could find one that I like and get along with. I guess I am a bit picky. I know exactly what I like in a man but I don’t know if I can find that. I feel so sad and I think that I am wasting my life but I don’t know what to do. Any ideas?
posted by Fromthesouth to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is very obvious this is not the right person for you. You are doing both him and yourself a disservice by staying together.
posted by jmsta at 1:17 PM on September 4, 2020 [48 favorites]

Best answer: Yes. You are standing in the way of both of you finding someone better suited.
posted by Freyja at 1:23 PM on September 4, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Hello! I was in a similar situation five years ago and I asked an anonymous askme question about it. Maybe the answers there will help you. They certainly helped me. I broke up with him and I have never regretted it, and my life is much much better now. In particular, I think of taz’s answer often. Good luck! It’s not an easy situation at all.
posted by umwhat at 1:32 PM on September 4, 2020 [21 favorites]

Best answer: Yes.

A simple exercise is to put yourself in his shoes, and imagine hearing from your partner, "I don't love you." Knowing that, would you want to stay together? Do you think he would want to stay together with you if he knew you don't love him? For most people, the answer to these questions is a resounding, "no."
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:36 PM on September 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

He's great except that he's emotionally cold and doesn't know you very well? I think you know the answer. Cut him loose.
posted by missrachael at 1:38 PM on September 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you really want to leave because you know this man isn’t a good fit for you. I think it’s kinder to leave than to drag out a relationship where the person you’re with remains unloved and perhaps would miss the opportunity to find someone who really loves them out of a sense of loyalty to you.

I noticed that you said this man is emotionally cold but that your breaking up with him would cause him great suffering. That sounds like he does have emotional warmth and depth, but perhaps you two are not communicating well with each other. Does that sound fair? If that is the case, you could either tell him you want to work on your communication as a couple or cut your losses and move on. Working on your communication will require a lot of work from both of you, so you would first want to determine whether putting in the effort feels worthwhile.

You also wrote about knowing exactly what you want in a guy, and I want to challenge that thinking because it may be holding you back from finding a good fit. In my experience, it’s always been about connection and communication. The odds of finding someone who checks every box on a list may be slim, but the odds of finding someone with whom you have a strong romantic connection and with whom you communicate well—so you can work on issues together as they come up, because they will—are higher. If you are open to experimenting with your idea of what a “suitable” partner means, you will find more opportunities In the future. No need to be afraid.
posted by saltypup at 1:38 PM on September 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I am a strong believer that being in love is a choice to a certain degree - there are always going to the little problems, and it's a decision whether the frustrations are more or less worth it for the joys. In your question, I don't see you describing anything more to your relationship that you would expect from a decent friendship. There are people out there where you will not even need to think about the calculous of frustration (boredom?) versus love - you'll just know the answer.

I agree with everyone else that it seems like you would be doing both yourself and this person a kindness in not keeping a hollow relationship going out of fear of the unknown.
posted by past unusual at 2:08 PM on September 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It's never too early to leave the wrong partner.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:31 PM on September 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

I often think relationships can be worked out, but I can't see any reason for you to be with him, except maybe being alone in PandemicTime sucks. And, really, being alone is a good way to know yourself. Assess his good and bad qualities, be sure of your feelings, then do both of you a favor and move on.
posted by theora55 at 2:35 PM on September 4, 2020

Best answer: It doesn't sound like you get anything out of this relationship beyond having someone to share expenses with (if you live together) and a go-to emergency contact. You've described someone who sounds like they struggle to relate to you and possibly others, so it's not even clear how reliable they would be at doing both those things well.

But let's get real here: those two things are like the bare ass minimum you would get out of an okay roommate situation, or even by having a boarder. You're describing something that's possibly more impersonal than what you might even get out of interactions with an acquaintance or colleague. Do you feel that you've described someone who would meet your benchmarks for even being a good friend? If not, then it's a real stretch to think that they could be a suitable partner. If yes, it might be helpful to really think about why what you think is acceptable from a good friend or partner is so very at odds with what you help you get your socioemotional needs met.

Maybe you can't get all your boxes ticked in a partner, but I wonder if some of them are the right boxes if you're in this situation to begin with. A couple can work through a lot of differences when everyone involved has the socioemotional capability to do so, but you've described being with two partners who might not be equipped with that. I'm not often all about Team DTMFA, but even if you never find someone else, you're generally better off alone (even in PandemicTime! and maybe moreso) than you are with a go-to person who falls so short.

FWIW, I've been in a version of your relationships more than once. I've learned the hard way that having so little chemistry can lead to serious contempt, and not in the direction that you might expect. Someone who can't meet your needs but also has some awareness of such is often the kind of person who can't deal with their own emotions very well. This creates a risk that they'll start projecting any frustration they feel over not being able to connect with you right back at you. You don't want or need that mindfuck.
posted by blerghamot at 2:40 PM on September 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have a lot of personal baggage regarding this question, but suffice it to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the consensus that you deserve more than a peaceful, cordial, rational relationship with somebody that you really like and respect, but have difficulty emotionally connecting to and aren't sexually attracted to. You're describing a friend or roommate, not a life partner.

Not only do you deserve better, but so does he. Even if he says he is fine with this. This isn't kind to him.
posted by forza at 2:50 PM on September 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

He also doesn't know me very well because he is not curious so he never asks deep or personal questions.

This all by itself is a good reason to break up with someone. I have never felt more alone than when I was in a relationship like this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:01 PM on September 4, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: You are quite literally in a comfortable jail. It is not a growth location. Safe but truly a dead end.
posted by ptm at 6:43 PM on September 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

I’m bored in this relationship and I don’t look forward to a future together.

I mean, imagine trying to write your wedding vows and having this thought at the front of your mind the whole time. Yes, you should definitely break up.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:18 PM on September 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Even before I read your full post, I thought "yes, please break up with him." And then I read it all and thought "Omg please break up with him asap for your sake!" It sounds like your boyfriend isn't very kind but, should be he a decent person, you two could always be friends again eventually. However, you'll probably be mostly relieved and feel a lot of understandable anger at first. I am in contact with very few of my exes but I wish most of them well and I can say that a post-break up friendship is possible.

I am sure that you will find plenty of men you like and who like you back. Dating in my mid-thirties has meant more weirdness than before but also higher self-confidence and actually more options. You can date people in their twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties without it being a big deal. You can date people who are yucky but make for good stories to tell friends as well as people so sweet and kind in ways you didn't know were possible. Wisdom and life experience are sexy to most people. You can have the best sex of your life (but definitely not with this guy, I shudder just imagining the discomfort for you.) As a fellow mid-thirties woman who's not in a relationship, I can tell you that being single right now is pretty great. And it's absolutely much better than being unhappy in a relationship. You deserve to be happy, and you're clearly not happy at all right now.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:35 PM on September 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You dated a man who is emotionally cold. Then you dated a man who you believe had a significant mental illness. Then you went back to the one who was emotionally cold. I don't think you are making good choices - you might benefit from doing some work on yourself, exploring what there is in you that is making these choices. I know many people in this community have done this work - if this makes sense to you, you might want to post another question on how to do this.
posted by metahawk at 8:58 PM on September 4, 2020 [9 favorites]

posted by jander03 at 9:43 PM on September 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Break up with him while you can still view yourself as a "good woman" who'll "treat people with kindness," and do the necessary work (in metahawk's comment) either solo or with a professional.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:49 PM on September 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you're both willing to put in a small amount of work, it's certainly possible to "fix" the sex. It just requires a bit of learning about each other and willingness to try new things/change how you go about it.

I won't say that literally every long term relationship has periods in which sex becomes infrequent, but it is definitely a very common experience that people have.
posted by wierdo at 1:54 AM on September 5, 2020

Best answer: If he's as kind and loyal as you say he is catnip to single women and will find someone quickly. Every single time I ended things or just rejected with a guy like this, they paired up quickly with a great girl in short order. Put YOURSELF first -- so many women seem to struggle with this inordinately.

Having experienced a relationship in which I did not enjoy sex, well -- that was torture after a point. I was relieved to be single after that.

Let him go, you're doing him no favors. Also might want to spend some time with a therapist to figure out why you dated and stayed with someone with a personality disorder, and then not only dated but RETURNED to someone whom you're not sexually attracted to. Do you think you're unworthy of a healthy happy relationship?
posted by shaademaan at 8:06 AM on September 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I glanced at your older questions and there seem to be several related questions about other relationships. It made me wonder if you're a little avoidant- do you ever feel like you're looking for excuses to leave relationships? Or, you have trouble identifying early on that someone is wrong for you. I also wondered if there are some cultural differences at play when you say he's emotionally cold. Maybe he is, of course. But is it possible that you have different expectations because you're from a different culture? How much have you tried to initiate deeper conversations? What don't you like about having sex with him? On the surface, the obvious answer is that this isn't the right person for you. But if you're repeatedly getting into relationships that you question in this way, there may also be something going on on your end.
posted by pinochiette at 8:26 AM on September 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

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