This is my first committed relationship with a woman. Me and my partner have been together for almost 3 years. We are pretty much on the verge of breaking up.
We both have been unhappy for quite some time. I am so very much still in love with her. I am naturally an affectionate person but she’s not. Which is fine but it’s difficult to even ask for a hug without her shifting uncomfortably to do so. We’ve talked and exhausted ourselves to now understand she’s not as affectionate as me. Which for me is a big issue. I feel so alone and my heart is breaking because I cannot seem to get the reassurance I need from her.
Two month ago, her best friends reached out to me and asked of our relationship because they can see we have both changed. I told them we haven’t been good and they basically told me that she won’t change, it was the same with her ex and that I should find someone who can give me what I need. I found so much relief in talking to them because we both moved interstate 3 years ago and I haven’t got friends here yet and I feel quite isolated. It’s hard to call my friends as we have both been WFH for the past few months due to the pandemic.
I just don’t know what to do. We’ve argued in the past but since we’ve been locked down it’s been worse. The hardest thing even is when we do argue, she’s very critical and can be demeaning. I know our relationship is not healthy, but I can’t leave her. I’m still so in love and infatuated by her. Very recently we’ve talked about ending things. But a day later both agreed to make it work. Since then, every day has been up and down. She wants to be with me and then she’s not sure.
I have no friends in this state and I’m originally from abroad. I feel if we end, my only option is to move back home abroad.
There’s so many things I’m scared of: losing my first love, moving home and feeling like a failure, but mostly for being openly gay for the first time and trying to find a new partner. I’m so scared of what’s to become. I feel like my whole world is falling apart. I’m not doing good in my job and constantly getting feedback about errors I’m making. I just started part time study for a passion and dream career. I want children so bad. I want continue to be with women, but I’m scared I won’t find anyone like my current gf… it’s clearly not healthy but I feel stuck.
(Editor’s note: Question has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.)
Hi there. I upfront want to acknowledge that first relationships with women are so monumental and emotional and often a rollercoaster ride. They, of course, aren’t always this way, but they can be, which makes letting go really hard. Since you asked for help with this, I feel comfortable saying you know in your heart it’s time for this relationship to end, but you just need a little push or some permission to do so. I’m here to give you that extra push or boost.
Sometimes we think love is enough, and it isn’t. You are still very much in love with this woman, and that’s important, but love isn’t enough to make a relationship last. It can be hard to break up when those feelings linger, but it seems like the both of you aren’t on the same page anymore, about more than a couple things, and breaking up now might spare you the hurt of trying to force something to work. I know I must sound like a broken record: “break up…break up…break up…” but I truly think that you both deserve the kind of relationship where your needs are being fulfilled. You say one of your big needs is physical intimacy and touch. Our romantic relationships are the main arenas where we get that need fulfilled, If you have already discussed opening up the relationship to other parties and that doesn’t sound appealing to either of you, I think ending the relationship is totally fair.
My main thing is you shouldn’t be made to settle for a love that is lacking something you classify as a need. On top of that, someone else has reached out to you telling you that she won’t change, and this is the way she is. This person’s intention in telling you this may be in question but I do think you should take the warning to heart, especially because it’s her best friend. Coupled with your own experience, it is a good indicator that she just isn’t on the same page as you as far as touch needs go. You’ve already spent almost three years together. I think that’s lovely, but you have to ask yourself what more you’re willing to bear. Could you do another three years with her? Another year? Another month?
You said your heart is breaking, and that’s concerning to me. I know what it is like to have a love that breaks your heart. Stretching it out and hoping it mends itself isn’t the way. It’s also concerning to me that she gets, to use your words, demeaning and critical during arguments. You can have a disagreement in a relationship without getting mean. You don’t have to deal with that because you love her. If she loved you, she would hear your feelings out and not talk to you in a way that makes you feel small.
This relationship needs to end so you both can find someone that is more suited to your needs. How you end this relationship will be up to you. Do you feel safe enough to sit down with her in person and end it? If not, an email, or (shame on me) a phone call might be better. I know non-in-person breakups get a bad rap but if you know the person you’re breaking up with, and know they won’t react well, you don’t have to subject yourself to their reaction. If you do feel safe, maybe have a script that you stick to which will help you explain why you’re breaking up with her. It sounds like she has a history of invalidating your feelings, so outlining what you want to say will help you and keep her from interjecting.
One thing you said that I need to address: you said you can’t leave her. That isn’t true, You CAN leave. You just have to find strength in yourself. I know how that sounds, it sounds like some bullshit, but you can absolutely leave someone who isn’t healthy for you. You can love her and still leave. I understand you don’t have friends where you are; in your case I would reach out to some mental health professionals or possibly a Women’s Shelter. You might not think your situation warrants that, but you can utilize the resources for people like yourself that are isolated and need permission to leave something that isn’t working for you.
It’s scary to leave someone you love, but you can absolutely do it. Make sure you have the resources you need before walking out. Gather the relationships you do have, let them know you are ready to leave and make that decision. I know you’re terrified of the possibility of moving home and being single again but you are so much greater than this one relationship. You deserve to be treated better than you are being treated right now.
I should have said this first, but I’m truly sorry your heart is breaking this way. It can be devastating to end a relationship, especially when there’s still love involved. I want to hammer home that you deserve the love you want. If that includes lots of hugs, kisses, and physical affection, you deserve it! Once you’ve spent some time healing your heart if you decide to follow through and break up with this woman, you can really start looking for someone that aligns with what you desire in a partner. Best of luck and lots of love to you!
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.