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Feeling like you should, but don't want to, end a relationship

Community Champion
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I'm looking for...advice or just another opinion.

Okay so I guess the relevant background information:

I'm 25, male, and have had two long term relationships at about 4 years each. I suffer from some form of borderline personality disorder and one of the things for me is an inability to understand that in a relationship, I am not the other person and the other person is not me. To me, we should be the same person.

Anyway, fast forward a bit and I'm a bit more aware of my thinking I try to understand the words that constitute healthy relationships, like "boundary" and "individuals" and "respect" and the idea of "me-time" and differences. I am also currently in a now-two month relationship with someone who's supportive without being overly...helpful? She asks questions, listens to answers and is non-judgmental (or at least that's what I'm trying to believe, which is quite difficult for me).

Now, I'm coming up with a wall that I seem to come up against each time: I want more.

I think I can explain what those health relationship words I talked about mean, but I can't explain how they feel. And because I don't really know them, the relationship feels inadequate. I think I know that every relationship will feel that way until I can learn what boundaries are, but it's hard to shake the desire to run or scare her off.

It could also come from a place of fearing a relationship.

So where I'm at now is I feel like I want to explain these things to her, but I'm worried that it'll feel like emotional manipulation to say these things without being able to offer any guidance about what I want, since I don't actually know why I want to say that either.

So I guess my question is how do you deal with relationships that you don't want to end, but feel like you should, and you don't know if it's because of your mental illness?


5 Replies 5

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear James~

First off sorry it's taken a while, as you know it can happen and it's not a refection on anything.

Of course you ask what seems a difficult question but I'm not sure the answer is that hard to find in practical terms.

Everyone in a long term relationship needs to feel comfortable and fulfilled - loved. Of course they also need to feel that they are supplying comfort and love to the other. They have to understand and feel understood.

Makes no difference if they have a MH or not, as far as I can see that's still the way it works.

In my own experience, in truth only a small amount, once the first learning period is well underway my instinct tells me if we are on the same 'wavelength' as it were. If I explain something I feel it has firstly been understood and secondly the emotional response I'm expecting is there.

I'm not sure from your description the latter is present.

A partner is a whole human being who must be expected to make their own contribution using their intelligence, their experience, their empathy. As a result I'm not sure you always have to give guidance about what should happen when you try to explain something - obviously in some things one does, but relying on the other to come up with responses is normal and to be expected.

I know you said

I am not the other person and the other person is not me. To me, we should be the same person.

I'm almost along the same lines, my partner and I both believe we are a unit, though two discrete halves.

OK, so where is this all leading? Just be honest, try not to overthink and if you feel 'shortchanged' you probably are and maybe need to try elsewhere. Don't forget the other person may feel similar too.

I"m not sure if this makes much sense or is of any help, I do know, having read your posts for quite some time, you will end up with someone special.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Croix,

Thanks for the reply 🙂

I'll keep it brief but what you said here is something that makes sense to me:

"... relying on the other to come up with responses is normal and to be expected."

I know it's something I don't do at the moment. Artifact from my upbringing: second, third, fourth guessing what the other person will think/do and trying to fill the boxes in for them.

Trying to get better at it though, so it's good that you called that out for me.

About what you said on the two discrete halves but same unit, I think what I'm really trying to say is I don't see me and others as halves. I see me as being them. They are whole - I am squeezing myself into that whole, but since it's a whole, there's no room for me.

Anyway, psych is away for 2 weeks so I blew things out of proportion a bit last week. Just got to keep my head down for the next week and half, and keep trying to assert my own self when faced with, well, the other self.



Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear James~

I'm glad some of it made sense, it's a hard thing to talk about. As for:

Artifact from my upbringing: second, third, fourth guessing what the other person will think/do and trying to fill the boxes in for them.
They are whole - I am squeezing myself into that whole, but since it's a whole, there's no room for me.

Perhaps that is partly a matter of trust and confidence - something that took me a long time. You know the hackneyed expression in some movies 'he's got my back', well this is the personal version 🙂

I guess if you try to fill in their options for them you are indeed in a sense becoming them (actually they are not a whole, just a half - like you - in the relationship)

You will get there you know, that's not being patronizing or anything, just based on reading your words, if I didn't believe it I would not say it. Try to take it easy


Hi James

You've helped me on a few posts, which I appreciate, so I thought I'd try to find some of yours to provide some advice in return.

I don't know much about borderline personality disorder, I'm bipolar ii, but here's my take on it.

I think once we have a mental health condition, we tend to simply assume that everything is our responsibility, and that maybe anything that does or doesn't happen is all because of us and how we are seeing things because of our mental health illness. It let's the other person get away with behaving however they please, without them having to take ownership of how their actions or inactions might make us feel.

Boundaries are healthy in any relationship, but they need to be clearly defined by both sides, to ensure both sides agree to it, and are happy to it. It simply doesn't work to guess or assume these things. It always results in someone feeling hurt.

I'm not sure where things are at, but have the expectations been set in this regard?

When I started dating my husband, I used to text him 50 times a day (granted I was 17 lol), I was in love & wanted to communicate that. I was also always expecting a reply & when I didn't I'd be upse.

Well that's just love in my view. It's not that I had disrespect fit boundaries. BUT we did have a chat about it, and he told me to 'cool it off the text' and no response meant he was just busy at work or uni. We resolved to have a 20 minute chat in our lunch break, and no texts during the day. This is an example of expectation set & mutual understanding meeting both our emotional needs (yes I was over zealous lol).

On the flip side, I had a friendship where it was the other side overly communicating with me using various forms. Which I wasn't exactly comfortable with, but went with. But it seemed to be when it only suited them. So they would pull back and ignore me when they didn't want to. Then come crawling back when they did.

This was confusing for me. There were no boundaries, no consistency. I often felt used & it sent my emotions all over the shop. One minute I cared, next minute I was frustrated. My emotional needs weren't being met, but theirs were when they needed it. I kept chalking it up to 'my mental illness'.. It must be me.

It wasn't until I talked with psychologist that I realised its toxic. Emotional needs & boundaries are 2-way street. Both sides need these needs met. I cut that relationship off.

My advice open communication of expectations x

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Community Champion

Hey Possum,

Thanks for the reply!

I think I definitely do just let others do whatever which is something I'm trying to stop, but it's difficult for me to not only know how to assert myself, but how much and make sure I don't just become selfish. Feels like I should've learnt this a long time ago, but I didn't, and I guess some people just take longer.

I think some of the expectations have been talked about but not all. I know there is more to talk about, but what that stuff is, I don't know. Just a feeling I suppose, but not about anything in particular. Doesn't make much sense, but we do want to make sure we talk about things as we find them.

Thanks again