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I don't know what to do - a mess of a situation

Community Member

Hello friends

I am in a bad situation. I would appreciate your advice and insight. I have been in a relationship for almost four years. It's been really hard at times. I love her sincerely but recent developments have have made me realise that I don't think I can in good conscience stay with her any more.

For majority of our relationship we have had issues with intimacy. This was a mess. Unfortunately my AD medication had adverse side effects. She assumed I didn't find her attractive and I guess responded with a threat response. I was screamed at, belittled and told that this is my problem, you need to fix it. I accepted this and sought counselling to help. This had repeated so many times that I no longer was interested in intimacy. I was actually afraid of it and still am. Similarly with other issues/concerns, they were usually met with either a very defensive or aggressive response, despite my best efforts to be diplomatic and gentle in my manner. Most of these particularly nasty memories are from some time ago now, (at least a year usually) but have done a lot of damage.

She had been away for the last three weeks. During this time a friendship with a female co-worker started. I confided in her about ALL of the issues I've been dealing with. She displayed warmth, kindness and understanding that I simply forgot could exist. I developed feelings for her, she did for me. We agreed I'm not in a place to obviously do anything about it so unfortunately are no longer friends.

I attempted to break up with my partner yesterday. She was distraught and heartbroken. It was the opposite of the angry/aggressive person I feared. I care very much for her. She has no friends, barely any family and would be entirely on her own. I couldn't go through with it. We agreed to try and work through our problems. I want to believe we can do this, but deep down I don't think it will work.The fact I developed feelings for someone else plagues me with guilt and I feel like every word I say to her is a lie.

Right now I think I need to work through my own thoughts and feelings and then proceed to act from there. I feel like I'm some sort of monster and I don't know what to do any more.

197 Replies 197

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Rhinoceros

I have just read your thread and wanted to say how wonderful it is that you have reached out to talk.

I am no professional but I have been in a marriage that ended 4 years ago.

I wanted to say that you are further ahead in your journey than you may think, the fact that you are very aware of your issues and triggers is a massive positive, it means you can then know where to start to make different outcomes for yourself.

The fact that you opened up to another woman and both developed feelings for each other also shows that you do have the ability to form wonderful relationships, they don't always turn out the way we hoped, however you are certainly no monster, just a human that is having some confusion at the moment.

It is to your credit that you are going to try to work things out with your partner and I truly wish you and her every ounce of luck, the fact you are both going to try is so positive. However it is just my opinion, but I feel it is also the most kind thing to do, even if it does not seem so at the time, to let her go if you no longer can love her the way she deserves and infact the way you need to love. This is no criticism on either of you, just the sheer fact that sometimes we grow apart and sometimes we no longer love the ones we started off loving, and that is ok.

You sound like a wonderful man and I wish you every success in your journey forward. All the very best Rhinoceros....virtual hugs x

Dear Aaronsis

I like your user name - my name is Aaron!

Thank you so much for your beautiful message. I'm far from experienced in relationships. My relationship is the 2nd relationship I've ever been in. A lot of this is uncharted territory for me.

I think while I wish I could try and work through our issues, I feel like it's a case of 'too little, too late'. For such a long time when I needed her to be gentle and kind, she was often neither of those things. Most of the time I assumed this was my fault - i.e. I wasn't mentally strong enough, not attractive enough, not a 'real man'. For such a long time we were together I felt so lonely. I thought that if I gave more and put in more effort I'd finally make her happy.

Right now she's hurting badly. She was unaware of the issues I had with how I was treated, and thought we were in a good place. She thought we'd get married and grow old together. To see her pained like this is so heart-breaking.While I hated it when she was angry/defensive/aggressive - this is so much more painful.

This friendship that struck up recently was an eye opener for me in so many ways. I didn't have to be careful about what I said, I could relax and be at ease. I felt like I could be my own silly old self. In my own relationship I've been on edge for most of the time and often I really felt like I wasn't the same person. I was a washed out, nervous, scared version of my old self. Just to properly laugh again was so special.

I feel guilty for opening up like that to someone else. While I knew I had a bit of a crush, I never meant for it to get out of hand like that. It just happened by accident.

At this point, I know that I need to break things off with my partner. While she desperately wants me to stay, and while I still love her and care for her, to continue stringing her along like this is not right. It's horrible for her, and I can't forgive myself for it. It's just so painful, but I need to be strong and do the right thing.

Community Member

This post hits home a bit, because I was seeing a guy last year, that had certain *issues* When getting intimate, he also told me he still had feelings for his ex, which was soul destroying, because all I had tried to do was love and support him and be there for him.

At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you. Would you feel better if you told your gf about these feelings you had for someone else? It may help clear your mind and able to move forward in trying to repair your relationship and move forward? It's not going to do you any good to be in an unhealthy relationship, feeling miserable and guilty all the time.

Hello Rhinoceros,

Thanks for your post. It is a really hard time when you see the end of the relationship, especially when it's not mutual, and I think you've done a great job at identifying why it's no longer a good thing for you to be in this relationship. I also think it takes a lot of insight to see that keeping the relationship going would not be good for her either.

That being said I can also tell you still deeply care about this person and if you can you want to reduce her hurt from the break up. I know his might seem counterintuitive but have you considered couples counselling? Couples counselling can be just as useful for helping couples breakup, it can help couples communicate without it escalating and can be a support for both of you, which might be good if you feel your partner wont have anyone to talk to.

I hope you are ok during this time and try not to be too hard on yourself, breakups do happen and it's never easy!


Dear Unicorn

I'm sorry to hear that. My issues with intimacy certainly affected my partner. She didn't feel attractive or loved. Unfortunately she would get extremely angry and impatient, compounding the issue for both of us. We didn't properly talk about it, if I tried to bring the topic up it would be met with 'we will sort it out some day', or 'you're just being neurotic'. I feel very bad that I ever made her feel unattractive, it was never my intention, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. She is beautiful, and I have spent years trying to make her feel that way.

If I told her about these feelings for someone else, I'm very worried she would take that badly. I'm worried it will completely crush her self-esteem. I can't bear to do that to her. For such a long time she was quite aggressive, and usually didn't display much in the way of empathy. Usually she'd be the one attacking me about things. To see her so fragile is unprecedented and heartbreaking.

You are right though, it's never really been a healthy relationship. I know I've gone on about the intimacy side of things, but it wasn't just about that. Intimacy is important, but without closeness and balance in other elements of the relationship, intimacy doesn't really work.

For a long time I've been doing a lot of the work to keep the relationship going. It's very draining when you're giving 110% and the other person doesn't really reciprocate.

I know I need to get out, and I guess I feel kind of cowardly in that I don't want to hurt her, but I know that I will.

Hi Aaron

Lovely to meet you, my brother's name is Aaron and devastatingly we lost him to suicide only 8 weeks ago, which is why I am here. My name is Sarah.

It was my pleasure to respond to you as it really resonated with me. I was in a marriage for 17 years that probably ended 6 years before I left if I am to be honest. It takes courage and bravery to do...BUT.....you can do it and another thing....the way you role play it in your head most times it never transpires like that....in my case it was nothing like I thought it was going to be and in actual fact while at the time we were both hurting and angry, we are now quite good friends, better than when we were married and we can parent together. I know this is not the same for everyone and I do feel lucky, however what I am trying to say is although you role play her being totally devastated as you can see she is hurting badly, the fact you have had bad times probably means that deep down she has thought about the future of the relationship too.

I understand what you are saying though that this has all come as a shock to her but I guess over the past 24 hours she has done some thinking too and as time progresses it will get easier for her.

I feel like you have identified your feelings and feel like the best outcome for you is to move forward alone, and you should not feel guilty or angry at yourself. You deserve to be happy and life is very short. She too also deserves to be happy and in time she will be OK and will move on with her life.

I feel so happy for you that you got a small taste of what perhaps a different relationship might look like for you in the future where you can be you, and laugh and say silly things and be 110% Aaron, that is so refreshing and exciting.

The time is now for you and you can do some things that make you happy. What things do you like to do? Sport? I love my AFL and am a massive Geelong supporter. I have 3 cats so they get me through some tough times too. Do you have any pets?

Lovely chatting with you Aaron



Dear Rhino.

From your gf's point of view, I can completely relate to that feeling of being unwanted. I tried to reassure this guy that it wasn't just about the sex for me, I was happy to snuggle up on the couch or lay in bed cuddling. If it led to more, than so be it, if not, just being close to him was all that mattered. But to him, maintaining hard and blowing his load (excuse the bluntness) was a sign of failure as a man, so I can kind of see from your perspective, although I hope your feelings aren't as bad as my ex.

I know you don't want to hurt her, but for your own wellbeing you'll have to. Maybe you could write a letter to read out to her? There's no gentle way of dumping someone. In person is always the best, but I think it is the hardest. I know you said she doesn't have many friends/family, but is there anyone you could speak to or give a heads up that you need to break up with her? The other suggestion is explaining to her that you need some time apart for your own mental health? You wouldn't be breaking up with her, just taking some time apart.

Dear Sarah

I am so sorry to hear about your brother, to lose someone in that way is something I can't begin to comprehend. I've attempted suicide many years ago, I will never forgive myself for the hurt and anguish I put those dear to me through.

You are so right, these things take so much courage and bravery to do. As horrible as this feels, being with someone just to prevent them from hurting is not really a good reason to stay, and it is less than what they deserve too!

I have two cats, and I have a vintage car. I'm also a jazz guitarist. I guess when I finally go ahead with this awful break-up, these will be the things to focus on. Lots of long drives, listening to music, cuddling cats (when they let me cuddle them!!).

Right now I'm feeling awful as I know it has to happen, but I just don't know how/when. There's no good time I realise, but the longer it drags on the worse it becomes for all concerned.


Dear Unicorn

I think for many men it's easy to get in the trap of feeling that 'doing the deed' is the be-all and end-all of intimacy. I certainly don't think that way. There's so much more to intimacy than that. For me, my girlfriend really wasn't happy with less than going all the way for a long time. I felt like I was under a huge amount of pressure to perform. Being yelled and screamed at just made it worse. Basically we both made each other really unhappy.

Recently (i.e in the last week or two) we have had more luck in the intimacy department however I guess I'm realising that even with that side of things being sorted out, I still ultimately don't feel happy in the relationship. The fact I developed feelings for someone else is not a good sign at all, and I'm deeply ashamed of this.

Writing things down helps me with lots of things. I might write down some dot points to help keep my thoughts together when this break-up happens. I guess what is hard is, it's like I'm dealing with two people. There's the angry/defensive/aggressive person that I learned to keep happy, and now that the relationship is in question, there's a very gentle scared person. It's hard, if that gentleness could have been present earlier on, maybe things could have been so much different.