Hi Dr Grit,
I have been splitting up with my boyfriend very slowly for the past 5 years. (I know. Don’t.) We’ve been together for a very very long time, and though we don’t actively hate each other, the love/passion/affection has slowly slipped away through a series of tiny resentful pinpricks, and now we are like very irritable flatmates. This year alone we have had four conversations in which he/I have admitted we have nothing in common anymore and have come to the end of the road. For me, the issues were: refusing to do anything about his appalling snoring that prevented me and possibly our neighbours from sleeping, refusing to go for the tests that might have revealed why we weren’t conceiving, letting me pay for everything while he pursued his artistically valid but lowpaid career, and generally being sad and angry all the time, yet refusing to talk to anyone to try to fix his low self esteem/control issues. I think he fell out of love with me because as a result of the above, I was pretty tetchy.
The problem is, we have these conversations, it’s upsetting for us both, but then he behaves as if nothing’s happened and carries on as normal. I really need to get a grip on this situation, as I’ve finally come to realise that while I’ve been trying to help him sort all these issues out, everyone I know has been marrying and having kids, and I’m about to run out of time, and am saddled with a huge snoring angry man child who will not seek help. I know. It’s my fault for letting him get away with it.
I think it comes down to the fact that a normal man would have moved out by now. I like to think I’m a nice person and I don’t want to kick him out onto the streets when I know he has no money. I’ve talked to a solicitor who has given me a rough figure that I should offer him (the house and all the assets are mine) but I don’t know where he’d go. He doesn’t get on with his ‘straight talking’ mother, or his distant father, and his friends are all having their own midlife crises (oh God, I’m painting an awful picture of him, he’s really a nice man, honestly). He’s the type to sink into a self-pity pit so I don’t want to give him a spade to dig it with.
And yes, I do know at the point he hits rock bottom, gets a grip, loses weight, fixes the snoring and deals with his career he will become amazing overnight and marry a 28 year old. While I utterly fail to meet anyone and end up being eaten by Alsatians, but at this point, it’s a risk I’m going to have to take. Basically, my friends have heard this tale of woe for so long that the insanity no longer strikes them, and they just say, Oh God, he’s a nightmare, you’re such a saint, you deserve better and NOTHING CHANGES. Typing it out, it sounds like madness.
I feel you might be more realistic. Go on. Tell me what to do.
PS funnily enough I’ve just started running and can more or less do 20 minutes. I am looking forward to it getting easier. At some point. Please
The 5 year break up. Grim, but nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us have been there as it is somehow almost always easier to stay in a shitty relationship than it is to leave! It is leaving a shitty relationship that takes courage and commitment. Thank God you are not married with a shared mortgage and children five years in! You could not be better placed to take this gritty plunge, and that is a huge bonus. The only thing that is stopping you is that you are seeing his life and his woe and his choices as YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. THEY ARE NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. We can only ever be responsible for ourselves and our own happiness. Nobody else’s. So your boyfriend has made some tough calls, gone the arty route and is skint and depressed. And you are picking up all the bills and feeling like you have got the moral high ground. You don’t. The only way you can genuinely help this man is to set him free, streets and all. He will not be destitute as you imagine, or go cold and hungry. He will be forced to actually find his balls and sort himself out for the first time in 5 years because you have been carrying him all this time and thus handicapping him from taking on that responsibility for himself. Look, I am not suggesting this is going to be easy, it will be painful for sure. But it has to be done. There is no love left between you, just anger and resentment on your part and probably the same on his.
Only he can work out what his next steps are. You work on what your’s will be. Without anger or blame or judgement try and have a really calm conversation in which you take responsibility for your side in it all, and say sorry, that you don’t love him anymore and that you want to move on and that he must move out by the weekend/x (v important to put a strict time-frame on it). Don’t blame him for all his shortcomings and all the grievances you have been storing up, that you paid all the bills etc etc because that is not his fault, but your’s. Let him go and sort his shit out for himself. I bet you one day he will thank you for it, and if he doesn’t I know you will thank me for it. Yes, he might end up with a hot 28 year old arty type who is a better match for him, just as you will meet the right man for you and with any luck you will both be happy with other people better suited to you….and trust me, you won’t give a shit in 6 months time.
The Grit Doctor says:
You are no more a saint than he is a sinner. You are just woefully ill-matched. The time has come to set yourselves free.