The Predicament of the Week from November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been in the same relationship for 3 1/2 years. Lived with him for 3 years, owned our house jointly for 1 1/2 years. About a year ago, I started feeling like maybe we should be considering marriage — I was happy in the relationship and it seemed like the natural progression of the relationship too. I was very open about it and told him how I felt — his response was that he wanted to enjoy his 20s (he is now 29, I am 26) and that he didn’t know if he ever wanted to get married, and he wasn’t sure yet if he wanted to marry me. He said that he saw his parents have problems, a lot of friends and their parents have problems, and he wanted to be sure it was the right step to make.
I accepted this answer. In the meantime, it has given me a lot of time to focus on my own feelings and wants and needs, and has given me a chance to see things about him that I don’t like, or at least recognize the fact that there were things I was unhappy about. For one, he and I do not spend a lot of time together: I am a part-time student as well as working full-time, so I am in class two nights a week. However, on two of the other nights, he goes to happy hour with his friends — ALL NIGHT, then drives home, and in his drunken stupor, wants sex. UGH. What a turn-off. I have told him how I feel about this, and he says its no big deal, that he can drink if he wants to, etc.
Also, many time when we have made plans with other people, he has been 1-2 hours late, if he has shown up at all. He also tends to always run short of money by the end of the month when the mortgage is due, and then needs to borrow from me — at this point, he is in the hole to me by almost $2000. This in spite of the fact that I make considerably less money than him, and have a ton of school loan debt, while he has none.
In fairness, these situations have improved in the last month or two — they’re not gone, but improved. However, it’s almost like it was too little, too late, because now I feel like I am not in love with him anymore. I’d love to think it’s just a rut in our relationship, but I have the feeling it isn’t creeping though my head.
Everything culminated over dinner on Friday night — we went to a really nice restaurant that night. I was almost an hour late due to traffic, so by the time I got there, he was already pretty buzzed from sitting at the bar waiting for me. We sat down and ordered, and he was loud, boisterous, telling the waiter he wanted to order “whores’ ovaries” (hors d’oeuvres, in idiot-speak), drinking more, and eating off of my plate, and this awful feeling of dread fell over me: OH MY GOD, DO I REALLY WANT TO BE WITH THIS GUY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE? Talk about a life-defining moment!
I realized that what I caught myself was an immature, non-commital guy who drank too much and had more fun with his friends than me. It didn’t matter that he was a nice person, hada good job, or was funny anymore, because of all these other things.
I feel like I am losing myself in this relationship and in trying relentlessly to fix things. When I tell him this stuff, he gets defensive and starts with his laundry list of things he does. Then I start to doubt myself, and that just makes me angry at myself for not holding my ground and not being secure enough to stand up to him.
I have mentionoed to some of my close friends that I am contemplating break-up, and they say they haven’t thought I was in love with him for months, and at the same time, they feel a bit more comfortable telling me what they REALLY think of him: nothing awful, but enough where I am sort of embarrassed for not catching on.
So, I guess I am looking for an unbiased, third party opinion on my situation. Also, if you DO think I am justified in feeling this way, how do I go about ending it? When do I do it and what route to I take in telling him it’s over? I want to be very careful about this, because if I do end it, I have to remember I own a house with him, so I am essentially looking at divorce-type settlement without the marriage. SICK! Thanks in advance for your help.
I’m hoping, first of all, that your letter will shine a massive FBI flashlight of truth on the relationships of other “trapped” people pretending not to see those “life-defining moments,” and instead making excuses like, “Well, just because s/he doesn’t speak French…”
And I’m hoping my first sentence — not to mention your own letter — answers your first question.
As for your other questions, well, there’s no one right way. Wrong ways would involve: islands, moving vehicles, any sort of public ceremony, and any place you’ll need a ride home from. And in this case, also avoid restaurants. And don’t be late. I’d say: be kind, be clear, be calm, be sure. Read no riot act; just tell him you’re leaving — try to offer, oh, three reasons why (you’ve already done that part of your homework). Don’t accuse; just tell. Have another place to stay the night you do it, just in case. And that, my dear, is the best you can do.
Problem is, he may not hear you right off. As in:
YOU SAY: You are a wonderful boyfriend, but I feel like it’s time for me to move on.
HE HEARS: You are a wonderful boyfriend.
YOU SAY: I can’t live like this anymore.
HE HEARS: I can’t lift this; help me get it off the floor?
YOU SAY: This may come as a shock to you, but I’m starting to feel like this this is pretty much over.
HE SAYS: Yeah, I’ve sort of been feeling that way too.
YOU SAY: I SAID, this may come as a shock to you, but I’m starting to feel like this this is pretty much over. (YOU THINK: God, he never listens.)
So make sure you’re getting through. And that you’re listening — not arguing — back to whatever he has to say. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to agree. Point is: try not to let the breakup itself become an issue in the breakup.
About the house, I’m not sure. I’d worry about the people in it first. Get some counseling, maybe, to help sand the broken edges — then see how smoothly things do or don’t promise to go. A lawyer — at least an accountant — might be wise. (Especially if you’re going to want that $2000 back.) The house adds red tape to the breakup, but it doesn’t make the breakup a bad idea. So don’t let the house stand in the way (like, don’t stay together for the chimney).
Be strong. You have your differences, but I do understand that you also have a history together, and a home. So if you need help with the fallout, write me back. Here’s hoping your next life-defining moment will illuminate what you do want.