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Help me not feel like a terrible person for wanting to break up

Alty McAltHatAlty McAltHat Registered User new member
edited February 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
First off, sorry for the alt.

So, I've been with my girlfriend for about 7 years. We live together. Recently, I've been feeling like we have been talking less and less and I've gotten to the point where I'm ready to say that we have grown apart.

However, what complicates matters for me is that for the last year, almost, she has been suffering from a heavy depression to the point where she can't even shop for herself on bad days. She takes medication for it and it is very slowly helping and she is also in therapy. I feel absolutely terrible about this, because I still care for her and I would like to be there to support her, but I'm just not getting anything out of the relationship anymore. We still laugh and have good times occasionally, but she has also at one time remarked that we were drifting apart a little.

The first thing about this is the fact that I can't distinguish if the disease is pushing us apart, so if I stick it out, maybe some of my feelings will return as her condition improves with medication. This is a minor point, I feel, because I'm genuinely not happy now and I think that should take first priority, but I feel completely awful about it.

Then of course, I really hate to cause more distress in her life at a point where she can handle very little. In the early years of our relationship, I had a bout of depression, which went away with medication and she stood by me. Granted, that was a much, much shorter period, but still.. I feel like I should be there for her, because I care, even though I'm not necessarily as romantically involved anymore. On the other hand, though, I think that maybe she should know that I'm harboring these feelings, but it seems like the conversation, should I get into it, would be a very conclusive one, because I don't want to lead her on. So that hardly leaves a lot of options for me to still support her.

Basically, I'm torn. It's a dilemma of whether I should be honest, even though I would feel like an asshole or wait it out a little, feeling terrible and.. well, still sort of like an asshole.

For some added information, we're in our early twenties, have lived together for about three years and have two cats together. With that in mind, I guess I'd also like some advice on how to actually break up. Do I arrange for a place to stay beforehand and pack down stuff. Should I even leave? I haven't done this before.

Alty McAltHat on

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    VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Have you attempted to grow back together at all or are you just ready to jump ship because it's getting hard?

    VisionOfClarity on
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    ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Are you in any way scared of her dying on you?

    Shanadeus on
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    jedikuonjijedikuonji Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Have you mentioned any of this to her? Have the two of you really talked about the future and if you see yourselves together? Have the two of you seen a third party for advice/therapy?

    It sounds like you want to make a decision to leave without really considering talking to her at all about how you feel about your relationship short of "oh by the way, I don't think this is going to work, cya later."

    jedikuonji on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    If you're set on breaking up then that's what you should do, but if you think it might be the disease and the disease is getting better, what's a few more months just to see what happens? You can set yourself a deadline.

    If you have no doubts, it's clear what you need to do. In this case, I would say that if you do have doubts, it could be worth sticking it out.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Also, no, you don't get to kick her out of the apartment after dumping her. You have to be the one to leave.

    VisionOfClarity on
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    The Muffin ManThe Muffin Man Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Also, no, you don't get to kick her out of the apartment after dumping her. You have to be the one to leave.

    It's not really that easy. Assuming it's amicable, this is more of an agreement thing than a rule.

    The Muffin Man on
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    Alty McAltHatAlty McAltHat Registered User new member
    edited February 2011
    Also, no, you don't get to kick her out of the apartment after dumping her. You have to be the one to leave.

    I didn't say anything about kicking her out. I wouldn't do that. EDIT: To elaborate, I think you misread me. We share the rent, the arrangements to stay a different place was for me. I don't know if that's what one normally does or if you still stay in the apartment. It just seems like a clean break would be the best with that kind of stuff.
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Are you in any way scared of her dying on you?

    No, I'm not scared of that. She hasn't been suicidal and she does have family and friends to back her up.
    jedikuonji wrote:
    Have you mentioned any of this to her? Have the two of you really talked about the future and if you see yourselves together? Have the two of you seen a third party for advice/therapy?

    It sounds like you want to make a decision to leave without really considering talking to her at all about how you feel about your relationship short of "oh by the way, I don't think this is going to work, cya later."

    We have had a conversation where we talked about drifting apart several months to half a year ago and I mentioned I was having a very hard time, but at that time I wasn't as discouraged about the relationship as I am now. But it was a very calm conversation where I said I didn't intend to leave her at that point, but I couldn't speak for the future. She acknowledged this and we moved on. It's only recently-ish that I've been having real trouble coping day-to-day life in this relationship, but I am afraid to bring it up now, because as I mentioned before I fear it would be a very definitive conversation and I'd hate to make her have to deal with that right now.

    Which brings me to ceres' question: I am certain that breaking up is the right thing for me to do, the disease clouding my perception is just a minor point that I needed to get out. I guess the way I actually look at it with the way I feel right now is - do I tell her now while she's miserable or do I stay in a miserable relationship until I feel she's more stable to handle the breakup.
    Have you attempted to grow back together at all or are you just ready to jump ship because it's getting hard?

    She's been on medication for a year and has been severely depressed through all of that, so it has been much, much harder than it is now. We've also had very rocky parts in our relationship before and stuck it out. I don't see myself as the type to jump ship, which is exactly why I am having this trouble. I feel I am legitimate in my assessement that we have genuinely grown apart, but I feel like a dick, because it feels like kicking her while she's down.

    Alty McAltHat on
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    RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Have you attempted to grow back together at all or are you just ready to jump ship because it's getting hard?

    With respect, this is the sort of thinking that makes people stay with abusive, fucking insane partners. It is terrible advice.

    You are not responsible for the mental health of your significant other. You should be supportive, respectful and here's the kicker... happy. You should terminate an unhappy relationship. If you are unhappy, that will only make your girlfriend feel worse - she will feel guilty for dragging you down. Your constant sadness and aloofness probably makes her think you've grown to resent her. If you love, or have ever loved this woman, break up with her. Sooner, rather then later. Depression is not the foundation for a relationship.

    Robman on
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    Aurora BorealisAurora Borealis runs and runs and runs away BrooklynRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    If it's any consolation, sometimes a significant life change like a breakup or a move can be a help in fighting depression. Sometimes. No guarantees. But it can.
    In any case breaking up with someone who is going through hard times need not necessarily be "kicking them when down". It's just a thing that happens. It's not like you're cutting her off from all her friends and then killing her cat and setting all her stuff on fire and throwing her out on to the street.
    All you are doing is ending a romantic relationship, one that sounds like it ended itself a long time ago anyway.
    Don't overestimate yourself. You are not so awesome that she literally can't live without you.
    Yeah, it sucks, and it's okay to feel bad about it. But don't let that stop you from moving on, if that is what you need to do.

    Aurora Borealis on
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    SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Rough. I have sooo been there.

    I'd say don't feel too bad about it, but you will. I'd say don't look back, but you will. You might get twenty feet outside the door and change your mind, you might make it out all the way. I'll leave the why's alone, let's just say you're trying to make a break of it.

    Breaking up with a long-term SO is a bit of a trick really. The how depends on a few things; cash on hand, income, transport options, housing availibility, specific possessions and how the break-up itself goes down.

    I'mna take this one from personal experience, and I've always been on my own; no family, at least not close by, and without staying with a friend. I suppose if one had family nearby and things were good with them, I'd say break-up, have a few friends on hand to move out your important shit quickly, and then make sure you've got everything you need because you won't be coming back.

    If you're on your own, scout out a place, make sure you've got enough cash to settle in (that'll be twice rent in most places) and then do the break-up. That in itself is an ugly bit of mess. If it's quick, clean and mutual, you'll have time to organize your shit and get out. If it's ugly, lingering and not-mutual, you are going to have a very hard time being in conflict over the next 24-48 hours its going to take to pack everything up.

    In the days before I had my own property, I learned to be pretty cold and final about such things. More likely than not, breaking up had already been discussed a few times, and so when it was time, it was time. I already had a place to go, I had packed most of my things into boxes and easy to carry bags (generally while the person was out for the day), and so the actual break-up was essentially 'did you know I'm fucking off now, goodbye.' You can rehash things later (boy can you ever) at the old place on your own terms. Or not, as you now have your own place, and no particular need to justify yourself yet again.

    As you acquire more things, it becomes more complicated. There might be ownership quibbles, or things you may need to leave behind. My own take on that was that a clean break was more important than a TV, or half a couch, or whatever. Breaking up with a long term partner is like breaking an addiction, if you let them back in, they are going to say and do all kinds of things to change your mind.

    You are going to miss them and want things to work out. Your brain is going to play some pretty savage tricks on you ranging from 'oh god what have I done' to 'why am i such an asshole' to 'woohoo free at last! to be bored.. and so alone'. Revisiting the person is a nice idea, soothe what you can etc, but honestly I have never had this work out. No matter how many times you rehash it, shits still all fucked up, you still have to go, and you'll still have to drop that person from your life. It doesn't get any easier, though i suppose closure is worth something after a person has had a chance to mourn the relationship.

    So anyways, you've got your stuff wherever it is you plan on sleeping, you've brought a few essentials like some silverware and a pot, hopefully a few blankets and whatever furnishings were handy. Time to rebuild. Stay busy; hit up Micheal's or Best Buy and make some decor while you're probably waiting for cable and internet. Keep moving, paint those cave walls (metaphorically speaking) and personalize your living space. Seriously, the more homey you make your new space the less you'll miss the old one.

    Get out with friends, excercise often. Make sure you've got a decent bed and pile on a few extra blankets. Get to know the new digs. Cry a little. Keep an eye on your food intake and make sure you're eating right. It won't take too long before you start feeling a little better, and after a while you'll come to be content with your decision. World's your oyster and all that. Good luck, it's gonna hurt right up until it doesn't anymore.

    Sarcastro on
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    harry.timbershaftharry.timbershaft Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Sarcastro, there isn't enough lime in the world for that post.

    harry.timbershaft on
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    ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    She's been on medication for a year and has been severely depressed through all of that, so it has been much, much harder than it is now. We've also had very rocky parts in our relationship before and stuck it out. I don't see myself as the type to jump ship, which is exactly why I am having this trouble. I feel I am legitimate in my assessement that we have genuinely grown apart, but I feel like a dick, because it feels like kicking her while she's down.

    If you feel that you've genuinely grown apart, and that there is no way of growing closer, then you shouldn't consider your plans as kicking her while she's down. If anything, sticking together with her just because of her health condition would make you a dick and probably cause here more sadness should she find out (which she probably would assume is the case if she too is aware of how your relationship have fallen).

    It seems that you're going for a clean break here but have you considered just being her friend and helping her through her situation as one?
    There are some obvious downsides to that alternative though so you might have rightly dismissed it.

    Shanadeus on
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    The Muffin ManThe Muffin Man Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Shanadeus is very right.
    If you stay with her, you run the risk of shooting down when she's finally on top.

    Your choices are either:
    A. Stay with her forever and ever (NOT a viable option.)
    B. Break up now.
    C. Break up later.

    And speaking as someone who has had to deal with depression, it's surprisingly easier to take bad news when you're low then when you're finally feeling good.
    When you're low, it's just "another disappointment". But when you're high, it feels much more like "Great. NOTHING can work out for me."

    Do what Ceres said and give it a few more weeks/months and see if the feelings return. During this time, keep in mind that her depression is her burden to bear, and you are just there to help her get through. You don't do it because you're required to save them from themselves, you do it because you care about the person.

    The Muffin Man on
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    DoraBDoraB Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I think it's worth one last conversation just so she doesn't feel this was sprung on her. You haven't mentioned what her attitude towards you is. Does she still seem like she's in love with you and is grateful you're there? Do you make her happy at all? Personally, I would sit her down and have the very serious "I know we talked about this briefly before but now we REALLY NEED to hammer this out" discussion. She needs to know you care for her, but that you aren't happy, and you need to know how she feels. Knowing how YOU feel may make her reevaluate the relationship and what she's getting out of it.

    You aren't a bad person for wanting to break up. Just because a person is ill (mentally or physically) doesn't mean you have to put your life and happiness on hold for their sake. It would be one thing if you'd just thrown your hands up in the air and went, "Fuck it, you're unhappy all the time and I can't deal with it" but it sounds like you've tried. I can't tell you how to break up if you do decide to go through with it (though it sounds like you have), but it should be face to face, at home, in private. Be honest with her. Be prepared for her to be upset, to yell and scream, whatever. It's not an easy process, and people handle it all sorts of ways. But if things start getting dangerously heated, leave before either of you says or does something you regret, spend the night at a friend's, and try to talk again when you're both calmer to work things out.

    DoraB on
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    ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    DoraB wrote: »
    I think it's worth one last conversation just so she doesn't feel this was sprung on her. You haven't mentioned what her attitude towards you is. Does she still seem like she's in love with you and is grateful you're there? Do you make her happy at all? Personally, I would sit her down and have the very serious "I know we talked about this briefly before but now we REALLY NEED to hammer this out" discussion. She needs to know you care for her, but that you aren't happy, and you need to know how she feels. Knowing how YOU feel may make her reevaluate the relationship and what she's getting out of it.

    You aren't a bad person for wanting to break up. Just because a person is ill (mentally or physically) doesn't mean you have to put your life and happiness on hold for their sake. It would be one thing if you'd just thrown your hands up in the air and went, "Fuck it, you're unhappy all the time and I can't deal with it" but it sounds like you've tried. I can't tell you how to break up if you do decide to go through with it (though it sounds like you have), but it should be face to face, at home, in private. Be honest with her. Be prepared for her to be upset, to yell and scream, whatever. It's not an easy process, and people handle it all sorts of ways. But if things start getting dangerously heated, leave before either of you says or does something you regret, spend the night at a friend's, and try to talk again when you're both calmer to work things out.

    Agreed.

    Shanadeus on
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    vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    It's only recently-ish that I've been having real trouble coping day-to-day life in this relationship, but I am afraid to bring it up now, because as I mentioned before I fear it would be a very definitive conversation and I'd hate to make her have to deal with that right now.
    The issue is going to have to be addressed at some point. You could stay in the relationship waiting for the "right" time to break up, but there's no such thing as an ideal time to do this. You could delay for a long time, trying to fake a happy face to your SO, but it's highly likely that your unhappiness is going to negatively affect your behavior at some point. I just don't believe it's possible for a person to keep a lid on those sorts of feelings forever. If you're already certain that the relationship is done, putting off the breakup could lead to you causing more harm than good, for both of you.

    vonPoonBurGer on
    Xbox Live:vonPoon | PSN: vonPoon | Steam: vonPoonBurGer
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    wiltingwilting I had fun once and it was awful Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Talk to her, not us.

    wilting on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Also, no, you don't get to kick her out of the apartment after dumping her. You have to be the one to leave.
    It's not really that easy. Assuming it's amicable, this is more of an agreement thing than a rule.
    All else being equal, the person doing the breaking up should be the one to leave. Obviously, there can be circumstances, and this is provided the person getting broken up with doesn't want to leave.

    Thanatos on
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    republic of merepublic of me Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Also, no, you don't get to kick her out of the apartment after dumping her. You have to be the one to leave.

    I didn't say anything about kicking her out. I wouldn't do that. EDIT: To elaborate, I think you misread me. We share the rent, the arrangements to stay a different place was for me. I don't know if that's what one normally does or if you still stay in the apartment. It just seems like a clean break would be the best with that kind of stuff.
    Shanadeus wrote:
    Are you in any way scared of her dying on you?

    No, I'm not scared of that. She hasn't been suicidal and she does have family and friends to back her up.
    jedikuonji wrote:
    Have you mentioned any of this to her? Have the two of you really talked about the future and if you see yourselves together? Have the two of you seen a third party for advice/therapy?

    It sounds like you want to make a decision to leave without really considering talking to her at all about how you feel about your relationship short of "oh by the way, I don't think this is going to work, cya later."

    We have had a conversation where we talked about drifting apart several months to half a year ago and I mentioned I was having a very hard time, but at that time I wasn't as discouraged about the relationship as I am now. But it was a very calm conversation where I said I didn't intend to leave her at that point, but I couldn't speak for the future. She acknowledged this and we moved on. It's only recently-ish that I've been having real trouble coping day-to-day life in this relationship, but I am afraid to bring it up now, because as I mentioned before I fear it would be a very definitive conversation and I'd hate to make her have to deal with that right now.

    Which brings me to ceres' question: I am certain that breaking up is the right thing for me to do, the disease clouding my perception is just a minor point that I needed to get out. I guess the way I actually look at it with the way I feel right now is - do I tell her now while she's miserable or do I stay in a miserable relationship until I feel she's more stable to handle the breakup.
    Have you attempted to grow back together at all or are you just ready to jump ship because it's getting hard?

    She's been on medication for a year and has been severely depressed through all of that, so it has been much, much harder than it is now. We've also had very rocky parts in our relationship before and stuck it out. I don't see myself as the type to jump ship, which is exactly why I am having this trouble. I feel I am legitimate in my assessement that we have genuinely grown apart, but I feel like a dick, because it feels like kicking her while she's down.

    What medication is she on? it may not be strong enough or it may not suit her. Personally i have been on Prozac, Lustral (generic is setraline) and Seroxat once a day and epilum twice a day. I developed an intolarance to Prozac, the Seroxat and Epilum made me worse and very sick. lustral is the best i feel great so not everything suits everyone

    republic of me on
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    RusparRuspar Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    [Edit] you know what?

    I had this whole thing about sticking it out...

    But I read a part where you said it's been a year and she's still miserable.

    You are not obligated to stay in a relationship where the other person is dragging you down. Not only that, but it's just as bad as staying in a relationship where you are physically abused every day.

    I'm all for sticking out the rough shit and getting through it as a couple, but it kinda sounds like she's poisoning you. You don't deserve that.

    Ruspar on
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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Ruspar wrote: »
    I'm all for sticking out the rough shit and getting through it as a couple, but it kinda sounds like she's poisoning you. You don't deserve that.

    Well, we don't know all the details from her side, either -- part of her depression might be caused by the relationship or her own feelings towards the OP.

    EggyToast on
    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
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