How can I get out of a perfect relationship?
September 21, 2007 10:31 AM   Subscribe

How can I get out of a perfect relationship?

I've been with my current boyfriend for nearly a year. Prior to that, I had a six-year long relationship with someone else and the split broke my heart. So yes, this current relationship can be described as the typical 'rebound'.

However, my current boyfriend is everything I could ask and wish for: he is understanding, gives me encouragement to become a better person and is always there for me, no matter what. He is everything a girl could want and need we become closer and closer emotionally other things have come into view.

First thing is, I'm just not physically attracted to him anymore - sex has become a sort of no-go area and I try to avoid it at all costs. I much rather stay in bed and sleep next to him, etc. He is not really experienced with girls at all. Some of you may say it is just a matter of teaching, but I have tried, and was not that successful so far...

Second...he is a very introverted guy. I am a very outgoing person and am always out and about. He can chat to other people, but everytime I go to a party or any social event, I will eventually find him sitting in the corner. That makes me feel really bad. Because I feel like I am forcing him to be in those situations or that I should stop going out altogether to spare him from having to be someone he is not.

Some guys I met in the past have come back into my life now, as if this was some sort of 'proof'. I have met one of them recently and ended up sleeping with him, and it was a fantastic night, in physical terms: only then I realised that the last time I'd slept with someone was about 5 months ago!

That made me start putting things into perspective: the first conclusion is that, definitely, we have lost the physical connection. It has become some sort of fraternal/best friend thing. But, he really loves me (and I love him too, although it is not the same kind of love!) and I am really nervous that if I end this, it will break his heart. I want to still be in his life as he is very special to me - but how?

I know he is not the kind of guy I could spend the rest of my life with: I'd always be looking at other guys or feeling sorry for myself for not having someone who matches my expectations. What is the way out of this?

I understand that some of you may interpret this whole situation as a betrayal or unfair to him, but please be open-minded before answering, as this is my problem too! Feel free to exchange ideas on Thanks for reading this!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There isn't a way to leave someone without hurting them.

The kindest thing to do is get it over with. And in the process of splitting up, don't tell him anything you'd be telling him just to unburden yourself.

(That is, don't say: "Well, I had sex with some dude last week, and it was amazing! And it made me realize how lousy you are in bed.")

A standby people use in this situation is some form of "I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore. I think we need to break up." and then getting away from him so he can grieve in private.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:36 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

First you need to lose the idea that you're in a perfect relationship, everything else you say makes it clear that you're not. What you're in sounds like a relationship with a decent person, which is nice but if it doesn't work (and in this case, it doesn't) means you have no easy reasons for skipping out. Instead you'll just have to face up to the fact that you're going to hurt the guy, possibly considerably. Not doing so, is not really a good enough reason not to. Get it over with as cleanly as possible. By that I mean, don't hang around, don't be a shoulder to cry on, etc, get out of the way and stay out of the way until he's over you no matter how long it takes.
posted by biffa at 10:38 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Read this book: How to Dump a Guy (A Coward's Manual), by Kate Fillion and Ellen Ladowsky.
posted by russilwvong at 10:39 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

To not put too fine a point on it, he isn't the perfect boyfriend unless he is perfect for *you*.

I am not sure what your agreement is with him regarding monogamy, but your sleeping with someone else, along with the other incompatibilities, certainly suggest that the relationship isn't working.

The solution is simple: Be honest with him and tell him it isn't working for you. You sound as though you aren't in a place to settle down right now, anyway, and that is all you need to say. I don't think it is ever a good idea to tell someone you are no longer attracted to him, however. But what you do is just sit down, talk to him about where you are, explain that you obviously think he is great but it isn't what you want right now. Talk to him kindly, and with respect, not pity.

The best thing you can do is set him free to find someone who cherishes him for who he is, not continue being with him and resenting him for who he isn't. He will be hurt; we've all lived through that. He will live through it, too.

Also, I don't think you get to decide, as the breakup-er, what your ongoing role in his life will be. That will be up to him in terms of how much he can handle.
posted by frumious bandersnatch at 10:42 AM on September 21, 2007

I would not say "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." but otherwise, I agree with thehmsbeagle, tell this guy now that the relationship is not one you're interested in continuing. Be kind, be brief and be gone. Don't try to keep him in your life or tell him that he's special to you. You're leaving him. It happens; it's not inherently cruel; it's not wrong to leave a relationship that isn't fulfilling you. But you are the one leaving. So leave. If he wants to keep contact with you, he has to be the one to define the terms of that contact. You simply do not get to make the decision about what sort of space you get to have in his life. You've decided you're leaving.

on preview: i'm agreeing with f. bandersnatch, too.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:44 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah. You need to break up with him. It's going to hurt (him, and you), but you need to do this.

I want to still be in his life as he is very special to me - but how?

This isn't your call. He can decide if he wants you in his life, and he may decide he doesn't.

My advice, which you probably won't take because I don't know that it's ever been taken by a couple breaking up (I didn't take it, at first anyway): once you've broken up, no contact. No phone calls or emails or IMs for at least six months. Doing this will allow you both some space, and may in fact lead to an actual friendship more quickly than breaking up but still talking to each other every day/week/whatever.

Good luck.
posted by rtha at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with all of the above, and as a post-script: if it's been five months, he may be feeling it isn't the perfect relationship, either. You are making the right decision; you need to get out of this before it is too late.
posted by misha at 10:53 AM on September 21, 2007

You simply do not get to make the decision about what sort of space you get to have in his life. You've decided you're leaving.

Repeated for emphasis. You must break up, back away, and be prepared to have him hate you. Maybe he won't, but it's not your decision to make.

The relationship is over. Have the decency to tell him that clearly and concisely.
posted by aramaic at 10:53 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Don't think about what you SHOULD want, or even what you suspect you WILL want in ten years time. Think about what you want NOW. Your original reasons for getting together with him are now obsolete, (the rebound side) and your reasons for staying with him aren't going to trump the physical side of it that's lacking until you're way too old to care about sex and being the life of the party. (Which, by the way, are two -very- important aspects of a relationship. You want to feel like you can show off your S.O. to your friends or at least have him keep up or hold his own in social situations. You also should want to have sex with them.) So I'm "n"thing everyone who says it's not a perfect relationship anywhere but on paper.

Look, you're not doing him any favors by "protecting" him from the truth, especially if you're sleeping with other guys. Be kind about it, but break it off because it's the only thing that will really allow you to move forward. Allow yourself to be selfish in an honest way, since you've already been selfish in a dishonest way. And being selfish about what you need in your life is okay until that day he slips a ring on your finger... so do it now. Just try and be compassionate, respectful, and firm.
posted by np312 at 11:01 AM on September 21, 2007

Form what you've described to be this isn't a "perfect relationship." If there are things you're finding in the long-term to be incompatible it's best to end things as soon as you can. It's only fair to yourself and most importantly to him too. If it's not going anywhere he should as well!

I agree with the above poster. You need to think about what you need NOW in your life. Not what you think you will need, or what your friends say you SHOULD need. What do YOU want? If you want out, then it's as simple as that.

Sometimes people will just stay in a relationship out of habit. As Dane Cook says, it's a Relationshit. You could get out of it today but instead you'll drag it out for 2 years and end things violently. If you two haven't been sexually engaging one another odds are he knows something is up.

I would meet up with him at HIS place, (the person being broken up with always feels more comfortable in their own place) and honestly tell him that you feel you've moved in both directions. You care about him but it's not love for you. Being honest and straightforward is the key.

The last thing you have to be aware of is that it is not your choice to still have him in your life. When you reject somebody the ball is most definitely in their court. My ex did the same thing you're about to, and it was my decision not to have her in my life. She wanted all the benefits of a relationship without being in one, and that doesn't fly in my book. When you break up with someone you risk the friendship as well.

Good luck.
posted by PetiePal at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2007

Keep in mind the following, and repeat it to yourself as often as you can: you have no moral responsibility to remain in a relationship that doesn't make you happy. None whatsoever. It's tempting to just stay with a nice person because it's easier than breaking up, easier than hurting them. Maybe you think something'll happen that will be a good excuse to break up, as if you really need an excuse. You don't. As long as you avoid uncessesary creulty, you're first and foremost responsible for your own happiness in this life. And ultimately, relationships work out so that you're not doing anyone a favor by remaining in something that doesn't work for you. In the end, yes, he'll be hurt. Maybe not as hurt as he would be after another year of attachment, when you eventually decide that it's time to jettison; definitely less hurt than he would be if he found out that you were cheating on him. Ending it is the best thing for both of you.

I'd nth the advice to cut all contact after the breakup. If you do love him, in whatever way, and there's no significant anger between you (it sounds like there isn't), you'll probably be sorely tempted to give him whatever comfort and support you can, but face it - breaking up means you're no longer responsible for supporting him. Furthermore, any support you do give him will be very likely misinterpreted by a brokenhearted fellow with desperate hopes for a rekindling. Give him the space he'll need, even if he doesn't want it.
posted by you're a kitty! at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

You need to do yourself a favor and realize things will almost certainly spin out once you explain to him that you no longer want to date. You may see a very sad or very angry side of him.

Do him a favor and don't force him to be the good guy by saying you'd still like him in your life. He might think he can still win you back in that case. You might end up as friends, but he'll need some time away to figure stuff out. This will be hard for both of you. A lot of people get to this point and swing back to each other.

Try to not outright tell him he doesn't attract you physically, or that he failed at sex. That will crush the poor bloke's spirit. Blame it on a missed connection or a lack of pop, but don't push it back on things that will seriously damage his self esteem, if you can avoid it.

Don't say something that can be proven false like "I'm not ready for a relationship like I thought I was" (and then dating guys). Also, don't mention that you cheated on him.

If you do love him and care about him, go about this as civilly and calmly as you can, and be cool about it. It'll be exceptionally difficult, and you have to be okay with not speaking to him ever. again. Don't be selfish on this front; accept it and hope that he still plays a part in your life, but don't count on it.

Good luck. You're not in the wrong here for finding out that you're just not compatible. And you clearly want to do right by him, so give it some thought and do your best.
posted by disillusioned at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2007

I want to still be in his life as he is very special to me - but how?

Please don't try to manipulate this so he could still be in your life. It's understandable why you'd want him to be, but it's his choice and if you really care about him, you won't try to pressure or manipulate him into still being in your life on your terms.

What is the way out of this?

You're not happy, break up with him. Be gentle and honest, but yeah, you're not happy and don't see a future, so you need to move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:39 AM on September 21, 2007

Echoing others who say break up with him. And don't mention the cheating. That was a pretty shitty thing for you to do--not something most people would do to someone "very special' to them.

Explain you don't have romantic feelings for him anymore, and the relationship is a friendship, not a romantic one. If he says he'll try to fix it firmly state it's over. And do not initiate contact after that. You may want to be in his life, but if he is very heartbroken that is not the best thing for him. If he's really special to you, you'll let him be.
posted by schroedinger at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Keep in mind, if you don't want to be with him today because you're no longer attracted to him, you're still not going to want to be with him next week. Or next year.

The only thing that will have changed is that you've spent another week (or year!) being stressed about hurting him and running a larger and larger risk that he'll find out you cheated and be really crushed, and you'll feel really awful.

I know it's often difficult to motivate yourself to do something that will cause you and him short-term pain, even if not doing it will just prolong the problem. So tonight--screw up your courage to tell him sorry, it's not working--and if you think that you can't do it tonight, just imagine what things will be like in a year if you never get up the courage to end it now.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:52 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well you aren't in a perfect relationship by any stretch, since you aren't attracted to your boyfriend and have already cheated on him with someone else. You already aren't committed to the relationship, and if you really didn't care about his feelings as much as you say, you probably wouldn't have slept with someone else.

So yeah, echoing above, break up with him. Don't mention you cheated on him.
posted by chunking express at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I read this with an open mind, but can't think of another way to interpret it. I have no tolerance for indecision and cheating.

There will surely be sympathetic people answering your questions in this thread, but I'm not one of them.

The only ONLY decent thing for you is to swear up and down that it's not his fault, how wonderful a guy he is and how happy he's made you. Then be prepared to never contact him again.

Make no mistake about this, anonymous, you have betrayed this guy.

Sounds like you need to read up on dating introverted people. Think hard about your own failures to draw him out and make him feel comfortable.

I won't do you the disservice of lumping you together with the many other people who have walked away from relationships with introverted people because they couldn't feel the 'connection'. I've done it myself and it's been done to me. It's always the same lines about emotional connections and precious friendships.

Take a long look at this relationship in the next few years as you date different kinds of people. I think you'll find that you were rebounding more than you thought, he was there for you in a way you needed. Then you didn't need it anymore, and you didn't need him anymore.

You are human and that's a human thing to do - but don't rationalize that you're not the villian. You are, and this is a shameful episode. Make up for the bad karma and move on.
posted by milinar at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2007 [12 favorites]

Quite clearly, he's NOT the perfect boyfriend -- he is lacking in a very important area.

Once you accept this, breaking up with him should not be any harder than breaking up with anyone else (which is to say difficult/sad/emotional, but not impossible).
posted by modernnomad at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2007

just because someone's good on paper doesn't mean he's right for you.

i think you should do this as quickly as possible. you are going to hurt him no matter what--you will do him a favor by getting it over with so he can move on.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2007

Echoing milinar's sentiments, esp about dating someone introverted. Outgoing is SO valued and often overvalued in this society, such that someone who's forced and phony will often be valued over someone who's quiet because (forced and phony) is more comfortable for a lot of people to be around. But it's the lazy way out. Clearly there are other issues in this relationship, but adding "he doesn't like to be in crowds and ends up in a corner" as one of those reasons isn't fair. Let him go.
posted by FlyByDay at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

However, my current boyfriend is everything I could ask and wish for

Clearly he is not.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:55 PM on September 21, 2007

Here is an idea, cut him lose to find someone who would really have a good relationship with him.

It was crummy what you did. Period. But do the right thing now and cut it off clean, and then like the others have said, leave and don't go back.

I always wonder at my own motivation too, since I have done stuff like this and when I look back on it, (for me only this is) I was self-absorbed, superficial and very into how cool of a person I was. It took me some emotional pain, and a long time to work through that, but now I have a great relationship.

And it isn't perfect, sometimes the wind blows someone my way and it is hard to say no, and remember that my husband is the guy I married and I love.
posted by chocolatetiara at 12:56 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

His introvertedness might be part of it, but it might not be at all. The main thing is that, however much you care for him, you don't want to stay with him. It's normal for you to be trying to make sense of it and to name some logical reasons, but it's better not to -- especially when you talk with him about it. It's a lot better to tell him you don't feel the physical closeness that you need, instead of mentioning reasons why you two aren't working sexually. He won't find it easy to hear "I can't stay" without some specific reason, but be firm. If he asks why, tell him something's missing -- but if you try to tell him what is missing, it'll torture him for a long time.
posted by wryly at 12:56 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I disagree with Millinar and FlyByDay. First of all, making a mistake in judgement doesn't make you a "villain". It just makes you a human, subject to the same weaknesses we all are. Calling her a villain makes it sound like she's tied her boyfriend to the railroad tracks.

Second, the fact that she's an extrovert and he's an introvert IS a valid reason for considering breaking up. Socializing is important to her. Not only is it important, but if she's truly an extrovert, it would be unhealthy for her to give it up. Not all extroverts are "forced and phony". Some people just genuinely enjoy others' company. It doesn't mean they're not capable of intimate relationships as well. And being an introvert doesn't automatically mean you're an honest, upright person. I've dated enough of them to know.

It would be one thing if her boyfriend was happy with her going out alone every now and again, but it sounds like he feels the need to be with her. So what's her choice? She can sacrifice her needs and stay home with him, or she can watch him sit in misery when she's at a party or out with friends. Why is his need to be alone more important than her need to socialize?

But yes, it will be very hard, but you should break up with him. Don't tell him you cheated. And do let him make the call as to what role you play in his life.
posted by Evangeline at 12:57 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

"I'm just not feeling it anymore. I'm sorry."

Sucks bad, for both parties, as it sounds like you're still quite fond of him, but you *both* need to move on.

For future reference, you should have left a long time ago. Five months?? Come on...
posted by LordSludge at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2007

"I want to still be in his life as he is very special to me - but how?"

This is unlikely, and if you make the effort, quite likely to torture the poor guy. Express your remaining good feelings for him by leaving him in peace.

Honestly: my ex-wife tried (sincerely I think) to be nice and friendly while we were breaking up and it nearly drove me insane - if you like me that much, why are we breaking up?

Don't do anything about staying in his life. It may work out that way, but it probably won't.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I don't see how you can remain friends, at least not while his feelings for you don't balance with your feelings for him.
posted by chunking express at 1:40 PM on September 21, 2007

in this post, a lot of people were accusing the girl the poster was chasing of "using" him, which made no sense to me. They'd made no commitment to each other & had told each other they weren't looking for a serious relationship, so I did not get at all how making out with him but not wanting to go further was using him.

This, however, is the definition of using someone in a relationship. Come on, you didn't sleep with your boyfriend for five months and then slept with someone else? And you want advice on how to get out of the commitment part of the relationship but keep him around for his understanding, encouragement, & support? Riiiiigght.
posted by lastobelus at 2:38 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

As an adjunct, understanding, encouragement & support on a deep level are what you get from someone who is more introverted. You don't get those things, on the same level of depth, from someone who is more extroverted. You get other things. So choose which is more important.
posted by lastobelus at 2:42 PM on September 21, 2007

As an adjunct, understanding, encouragement & support on a deep level are what you get from someone who is more introverted. You don't get those things, on the same level of depth, from someone who is more extroverted. You get other things. So choose which is more important.

There is absolutely no way to support this statement.

The idea that being introverted automatically makes a person deep, caring and thoughtful or that a person who actually enjoys socializing is by definition shallow and superficial is such a logical fallacy that I'm surprised it would even be suggested on a web-site known for being filled with smart people.

Having polar opposite views and attitudes about being social, going out, spending time in groups can absolutely be a dealbreaker (in that it signifies a major personality difference that may indicate incompatibility) and the OP should not have to apologize for recognizing this.
posted by The Gooch at 3:22 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Don't tell him you slept with somebody else.
posted by theora55 at 4:28 PM on September 21, 2007

Ditto that. You messed up; deal with the guilt (if any) and take it to your grave. Telling him is passing that burden on to him and fundamentally a lousy thing to do.

If I wasn't clear before: Next time, break up *before* you cheat.
posted by LordSludge at 5:08 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

He'll be fine, and you're obviously done with it, so staying with him for the nice best-friendy warm things he does is just selfish. It would be selfish even if you hadn't cheated on him, but now you have, so you really haven't got a leg to stand on.

I imagine you're framing it in these terms ("he's perfect!") because of how guilty you feel and the fact that you really do think he's "a nice guy" and all, but you're just not that into him. So, get over it, you're done, be a woman about it and tell him, straight up, no fucking around, that your relationship isn't working for you anymore and that you think it's time you parted ways.

Because you pretty much already have, it sounds like.
posted by blacklite at 5:17 PM on September 21, 2007

You still love him; he's everything you could want and more; the relationship is perfect; then you cheated on him. Wow. You're doing him a great service by leaving. Make it clean and merciful, and never look back, lest he be sucked back into hell.
posted by RussHy at 6:19 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I am really nervous that if I end this, it will break his heart

You can bet it will. Your job is to keep that to a minimum and that means keeping out of his life. You should act in your own best interests by breaking up with him. Then you should act in his best interests by giving him space and not trying to get the freebie of his feelings for you by "staying in his life." He needs to go his own way and find someone who is going to fulfill his needs. Having you around is going to make that much more difficult and make it more difficult to move on.

Plus you are going to want to get back with him when it gets hard. Resist that temptation.

posted by Ironmouth at 9:32 AM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

@The Gooch

rolleyes. Saying someone is highly extroverted does not mean they "enjoy socializing." It means they are a person concerned more with practical realities than with inner thoughts and feelings

Most people are a balance of the two characteristics anyway. OP describes having trouble deciding between two people who are from the small percentage of people making up the opposing outlier groups.
posted by lastobelus at 12:46 AM on October 2, 2007

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