I think my relationship is nearly over
Hi everyone, I'm having a nightmare of a time.
My girlfriend and I have been together 5 1/2 years.
We've had good times and also many really awful times.
My aim in life was to make her happy. I did everything I could.
We both live in separate houses; we only really see eachother on weekends. She doesn't want to come to my house (it's a nice new home, I think it's a pleasant calm space to be in). Rather I have to go to her house. To progress the relationship (she wants to be engaged) I want us to spend much more time together. Having one house isn't possible right now, but we can make the best of our current situation by staying with eachother during the week. She doesn't seem to want to do that.
Having constructive conversations about important topics is hard. She is very defensive and responds with a lot of aggression if something I say is perceived as a criticism. Early in the relationship she has been verbally abusive on more than one occasion. I have spent a lot of time going to counselling to try and understand why I feel so confused, and also to figure out what is going on with my girlfriend. My counsellor believes she has traits of covert narcissism.
What has brought the things to this point is that she wants to get engaged and is frustrated this hasn't happened yet. What is holding me back is that I know she wants to move interstate at some point. I don't. I have a home here, family , work ,friends. This is where I belong. I feel like moving interstate will be very isolating and disastrous for my mental health.
Yesterday she was giving me silent treatment. I then realised every photo of me in the house was gone.
She wasn't happy at all. She doesn't believe I love her. Isn't happy that she isn't engaged. I explained my preference to not move interstate. One thing we agreed on in the last 5 1/2 years is neither of us wanted children. Suddenly this has changed. I find it very hard to believe because her main response to seeing babies etc. is one of disgust.
I don't want to think the worst of her, as I love her dearly, but I am suspicious this may be some kind of bluff. It just doesn't add up to me. I have learned to understand that I've been gaslighted a lot over the years, and wonder if this could be some kind of desperate attempt to make me feel even worse.
We are going to talk again tomorrow and hopefully after that I'll have some closure either way things end up going.
Thanks for listening
Thank you for sharing your story. It's sad and heart breaking to hear what you've been through over the 5 1/2 years of your relationship. I feel you're a kind hearted and gentle person, and that you really deserve better.
One thing from your story that resonated with me a lot was when you mentioned "My aim in life was to make her happy. I did everything I could". I once had that mentality, but I learned that it would just lead to sadness and misery as our own needs from the relationship aren't met. It's great to hear that you've identified one of your solid boundaries (moving interstate), and I hope you'll be able to identify more to know you're worth more than what you think. If a partner is not willing to discuss important topics, that makes it very hard for both people to learn and grow together.
Stay strong my friend, and hopefully all goes well with your talk tomorrow. Happy to chat with you more as well if you need someone to talk to, or vent out your frustrations.
Thank you for sharing your story, it sounds like you are going through quite a bit right now dealing with relationship uncertainty. We know that can be really stressful and so we are really glad that you've been able to reach out for support. It is great that you are also talking about this with your counsellor, we hope that is proving helpful.
If you ever want to talk to someone else, you can always call us on 1300 22 4636 or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. Sometimes it can be really helpful to talk it out so we thought we'd suggest it as an option.
We can see that you are trying to work it out and we hope that you can get some good advice from this community. Thanks you again for posting and for sharing your story.
Kind regards ,
thank you for your kind reply.
I try to be kind hearted and gentle as I can. I'm far from perfect, I don't mean to speak ill of my girlfriend. That's not my intention.
She is a good person, but she unfortunately has some very destructive behaviours. By going to counselling and doing my own research to understand those behaviours, the relationship has benefited. It was very distressing at first to realise that at times the relationship was actually abusive, how much I had been manipulated, and how I was actually not helping that situation, rather I was enabling it.
This last week was a hard one. I've been working in the orchestra for a stage production (I'm a professional musician), not once would she attend. There was always an excuse. She almost never comes to see me perform. I think she just has very little interest in what I do. On the other hand, I take interest in what she is doing and offer support wherever I can.
I'm not a very assertive person. To make things worse I really hate confrontation. I think that is partially why the relationship may have lasted this long. A more assertive or confrontational person would have lost patience a long time ago. I persevered and hoped with time we could resolve the issues we had. The progress was slow but things were improving.
I am very nervous and anxious about the talk tomorrow. The last thing I want to do is hurt her but I have to assert my boundaries for once. Moving interstate is something I can't do. I wish I was a more resilient person who could do things like that, but I'm not.
If she is serious about kids, that's a whole other issue. In my view if we can't agree on more fundamental things like where we intend to live in the future, I just can't see that happening. I've never contemplated children, I'm 28 (she's 36) - I realise the 'clock' is ticking for her, however I'm not ready. It's completely out of the blue.
I can't help but feel like I am failing her in a profound way. I realise that isn't the case - but my measure of happiness always around how happy she is - and I always would try and do nice things for her to make her happy.
Seeing her so sad/angry yesterday was gut wrenching.
I'm so sorry for the pain I've caused but have to try and remember that she probably wouldn't be as concerned about the pain she causes me sadly.
I'll keep posting, just have to see what happens. I hope we can work it out but I don't see how we can come back from yesterday to be honest.
My sincerest apologies if my previous reply have made it sound judgmental against your partner. Rest assure that was not my intention.
As you described your story more, I resonated more with your situation as well. I wasn't a very assertive person myself, I hardly communicate my boundaries even though I kept telling my ex to be her true self in front of me. I'm always siding with her, agreeing to avoid conflict. I'm always trying to go out of my way to do things to please her as well, hoping that'd she'd reciprocate in the same way. In the end, she called off our relationship, and I'm left devastated. I figured that I was being too "nice" to her to the point, I'm just hiding my true self, and not bringing the best version of myself to the relationship. But I'm doing better now, learning how to fix the "nice guy" syndrome, and live the life that I want.
When you mention "more assertive or confrontational" person would've ended the relationship sooner. I see it not because they lost patience, but rather they know that their needs aren't met, and things aren't going to work out in the end. So it's better to call it off sooner than to drag on the relationship and further hurting each other. If we're staying on and hoping that the person will change, the relationship will become unhealthy and one sided, especially when they're avoiding serious discussion topics, or have a deal-breaker boundary that will never change. But I can understand why the decision is very hard to make. It's hard to discard the good feelings that came from the relationship; all the happy times spent with them, the times where our partner smiles and brings butterflies to our stomach. It's hard to detach those emotions from the memories.
Relationships are messy, and things don't last forever (life isn't like a fairy tail, where the prince and princess gets to live happily ever after). You've done the best you can for your relationship, and you've given it all you've got and you've held on for so long. Unfortunately the relationship didn't work out as the both of you had expected. It's sad and makes us feel terrible when we have to hurt someone in order to protect ourselves. But if we see it from another perspective, it may be better this way for the two of you.
Hope you're able to love yourself more, and trust yourself that no matter the decision you make, you'll be able to cope with whatever happens.
I didn't get that impression at all. It was actually me reading my own post that made me realise I sounded more critical or harsh than I intended.
We spoke on the phone a few times yesterday. It was as if I was speaking to a totally different person to the other day. She was very angry before - yesterday she was the opposite. She was telling me how she misses me, looks forward to seeing me.
I'm sad that it's only when we have a terrible argument like this that I finally hear such nice things like that. I'm not after constant adoration or anything, but it's hard when you rarely get positive feedback from your girlfriend.
I told her again that I love her, and I also said I miss her. We will talk tonight and see how that goes.
I am also aware that there's the chance I could be being manipulated. My father was a chronic manipulator, he put my mum (and us kids) through hell with this kind of thing. He'd be all explosive and angry, and then so apologetic and kind after.
I'm having a hard time knowing whats real and what isn't. Is the angry version of my girlfriend real or is it the sweet, kind voice I heard on the phone?
My current approach is to stick with my boundaries. At this stage I know they are that I can't move interstate, and I'm not ready for children. They are the things that I can't bend backwards on. They're things I know that are true.
I love her so much and have invested so much into this relationship. All I want to do is make her happy but knowing that I may not be able to give her what she wants makes me feel like I'm a failure.
Hoping tonight goes okay and thank you again for your kind responses
I can understand why some people choose to stay single... this is so hard.
Thank you for your openness in sharing here. It can be a really helpful way to understand and work through your feelings. We think it's good that you've been able to identify your boundaries, and we hope this helps you in working through this, whatever you decide.
We hope your planned talk this evening goes well. This community will be here for you, so do keep updating us when and if you feel comfortable. Remember we are here for any moment you feel distressed or overwhelmed, call us on 1300 22 4636, or use our webchat or email.
Hoping your talk with her goes well too. I feel it's common for couples to have an argument over something, and then make up with each other to come to a mutual agreement. That is what I feel growth is like. We learn to appreciate each other's differences, and work together to come to mutual terms.
In regards to not being able to give her what she wants, I feel this is a difference in core-values that, unfortunately, cannot be compromised by either party. Core Values is important when it comes to establishing a healthy relationship, but core-values are not aligned, then perhaps it's best to let them go for the best of them to look for someone else who has core values that are more aligned for them, and likewise to yourself as well. You've done your best for this relationship, and you've put in a lot of effort and sacrifices to make it work. Not having any sort of reciprocation would only lead to resentment later on... Hope you can learn to be more kind to yourself about it, and recognize the wonderful, kind and unique person that you are. This relationship may have been a failure, but you'll be able to do better on your next one 🙂 .
Relationships certainly are hard and messy, and I too feel it's one of the reasons why people choose to stay single. They've experienced it once, learn how terribly hard it is, and just give up and stay single forever. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to being single and being in a relationship. Think it really depends on what a person wants in their life. To those who strive for a suitable companionship, they will keep trying until they find the person that was meant for them. Through each experience, they will learn to understand more about themselves, and what they look for in a potential partner.
Will be rooting for ya my friend, keep us posted on how things goes. We're here for you if you ever feel like chatting, or needing an ear to listen (or rather, eyes to read).
Thanks for your kind reply.
We spoke last night. Throughout yesterday I tried to plan the way I'd go about it. I didn't want to get too emotional or wound-up on small trivial details . I wanted to try and unpack some of what's been holding us back; the reasons for my partner wanting to move, some more background about where the surprise about kids came from too.
We made dinner and had a chat. Essentially she hates living here in Tasmania. She doesn't like the climate, the fact it's such a small place (not as a many amenities). She finds it very depressing and oppressive living here. Where she wants to move to is likely Adelaide; that's where her Mum lives (Dad is here in Tas). How long she wants to move there is an unknown. She was quizzing me with hypotheticals, i.e. can we just move for one year to try it out for example.
I tried to explain my reasons for not wanting to move. Firstly my mental health issues make it hard. They are well managed here and I am doing ok all things considered. I also have a secure job, and lots of after hours work as a semi-professional musician. I'd lose all of that going interstate. I have a home here, Mum and Dad are here, my friends are here.
I also described the life we could have here in Tas - what I was hoping for. It sadly doesn't sound like something she is wanting.
I ended up falling into a million pieces, instead of being calm and firm like I hoped to be. For the first time in ages, she was quite unguarded and I felt like I was actually getting honest answers. She is usually very cagey and resistant to vulnerability of any sort.
It was late by the time we finished talking. We hadn't really resolved anything but I realise that I'm actually holding her back from doing the things she wants. Likewise she's holding me back from being truly happy too. It's such a horrible thing to come to terms with. I stayed with her last night and was holding onto her for dear life. So much for not letting emotions take charge.
I'm embarrased that I crumbled the way I did and so guilty feeling that I have held her back like this. Everything I've done has been to make her life better; I am so full of regret and guilt. We will need to talk again, I'm thinking maybe Saturday will be a good time for that.
In a perfect world I'd hope she would be agreeable to a life here with me. Kids could even be part of that with a little bit of time. I realise that might not be enough.
Thanks for listening again
Pardon me for butting in after all the spot-on advice Jt has been giving you. I think Jt has the right of it and you have absolutely nothing to reproach your self about -and falling to pieces or getting upset is simply a human measure of your distress.
For any relationship to work for the long term there has to be a balance. I'm fortunate having found it twice. Each person has to want to make life as easy and enjoyable as possible for the other, even putting themselves second when needs be.
Your partnership has been most unbalanced, and sadly during all that 5 1/2 years you have not really been together, only going to her house on weekends. Not a good way to get to know somebody as you would living together every day.
For any person that truly loves another ensuring their health -mental and physical, their family relationships, friends, secure employment and more is a no-brainer, it comes naturally.
I'm afraid this cannot be said of your GF despite all you have tried to do. I also get the feeling that you are coming to see this imbalance and that it cannot change despite occasional bursts of being nice. Would you want to spend the rest of you life in this way? Do you really think a desperate venture, moving interstate would improve things for either of you? It would certainly destroy the life you have now.
Guilt is natural, but misplaced, you have tied so hard and things have not worked out, unfortunately it is some sort of instinct to feel bad when this happens.
I hope you can step back and gain perspective.
Apart from the counselor, is there anyone in your family or a friend you can lean on, talk honestly with and just be listened to with love and care - and not too much advice?
You are welcome here anytime.