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When love isnt enough to save a relationship(46 Posts)
I cant believe I am writing this, yet when I see other peoples posts, who are in far longer term, more committed relationships, married with kids etc I can't help but still feel like 'but no one understands what I am going through!!!' cries into pillow. Clearly - I am not the only one to have ever had to mend a broken heart!
To give some background. I have been with my (now ex) boyfriend six years, but we have known each other a while longer. We were together when we were younger, but needed time to 'grow up'. We ended up back together again two years later. It was almost fairytale like - Boy meets Girl again, and their love is untouched! swoooonnn.
We are (were) close. My best friend, my companion, my rock, my grounding, my 'go to', my happiness, and good looking to boot. I thought we had it made, having lived together for three years, and almost, roughly on a similar journey - wanting to put holidays, life, celebrations, growing up, before committing to kids and marriage in our early 30's.
Now heading close to my 30's I thought 'this is it, yippeee!'.
But it isn't. And boy has it knocked me sideways with full force, and keeps doing so like one of those stupid weeble toys. I am hysterical. I feel lost, lonely, in despair, angry, reflective, disappointed, let down, hurt, heartbroken, anxious, devastated.. You name it these past few days I have felt it to my absolute core and then some.
The thing is though, I could see it coming. We had been here only a few months before, trying to work out our differences, and as to why things just were not 'clicking' anymore. How could things be going so wrong, when they were, or were at least mean to be so right? We were MADE for each and this was the plan!!!!
I sit back now, and realise, actually all the above is still very true. It hasn't changed. We still love each other, we just CANNOT seem to make it work. Our communications styles are very different. He is a 'doer', I am a 'talker' (like most men and women, but to the extreme in this circumstance and I wont bore you with the detail).
I am a worrier, I like to feel reassured and loved by words and the small things. He is laid back and assumes his actions speak for themselves (they do, but for me the words have to kind of be there too). His laid back 'what will be will be' attitude means his support is somewhat lacking, which is fine for the stupid stuff I stress over, but not the big things, which are potentially life changing - what if I relied on his support for babies, or family issues, or parents growing old (because it is all grown up stuff that we will need to deal with one day). He can be selfish, whereas I am the type to put others first always. He is very black and white and logical and he comes across as cold and emotionally lacking. I am a daydreamer, who trusts their gut and seeks comfort in emotion and knowing I have listened to both my head and heart. I come across as needy at times, even though my heart is in the right place. There are so many clashes in personality, which in all, and without adding much more detail and examples, left for us both wanting and feeling well, not ourselves - which is utterly S**T.
Before anyone suggests making small compromises, agreeing to make small changes, we have been there. We have talked it through, we have tried to action it for months. But it just came across as forced and false, and it left for just a very weird atmosphere and environment to be in. We were content, we weren't unhappy, but the days of pure joy and happiness, just kind of weren't there anymore.
The break up is amicable. There is no hate, no cheating, no 'someone else', no screaming at each other, no 'can we make it work', it just is what it is, with a whole lot of hurt chucked in.
So HOW, please tell me, do you cope with a break up, where you both still love each other, have a connection and a spark, but just cannot make it work?
This is the hardest thing I think I have ever had to cope with
I'm not going to suggest 'compromises' or 'small changes' - you're clearly fundamentally incompatible and nothing can alter that.
I could write your post. I have no answers, but worried that we're following this same path.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
I could have wriiten your post 27 years ago. Instead of splitting up we got married. I spent much of the next 25 years thinking I was needy. I wasn't needy - I had unmet needs which he could not meet because of who he was. We're in the process of divorcing. Read up on adult attachment. In a few paragraphs I made sense of a 27 year relationship and why we were incompatible and should never have married.
I wonder if cold turkey is the only way to go, just never see them. It's hard though. I did this with an ex when I was able to follow my head rather than my heart and I eventually got over him.
This time around not so much, DH and I split a few years ago but because of the DCs were still still saw each other and ended up getting back together again, I still don't really know if it was for the best tbh as I seem to spend and awful lot of my time being unhappy.
Thank you for the replies.
It is comforting to know that I am not the only one to have been in this situation. And yes, I think it safe to say that we have tried to compromise and word on things. But it seems 'stuck'. Things have improved but not enough. I realise that things could have got deeper with kids and marriage and with us moving into our mid 30's-40's before it all came apart. And by that point things would have been MUCH harder.
However it doesn't change the fact that we simply do not know how to fix things, even though we would give anything to. We both sat down the other day. We agreed we love each other, our feelings haven't really changed overall (all be it clearly there is an impact with all this backwards and forwards), and that ultimately the only reason we are splitting is because we don't know how to fix the issues, and we are both tired from it. We simply don't want to taint what actually has been a successful, fun and for the most part loving relationship. We don't want to become the couple who resent each other.
I thought that ending on good terms would make it easier. It doesn't. Because I just keep thinking 'what if', or 'can we', or 'maybe we should'. It makes it damn harder because there essentially is no definitive reason for it ending!!!
Twinklestein, I think for the most part you are probably right. At this moment in time we are incompatible and our needs aren't being met in one form or another. It doesnt mean that we never were (we clearly were to have lasted 6 years), but we have both grown and changed and our needs as we head into our 30s are very different from our early/mid 20's. I guess it doesn't mean that we wouldn't ever be compatible again. I would love to believe that love is meant to last a lifetime, but more and more I am starting to believe we have different wants, needs and requirements as we grow older, and sometimes that means meeting and discovering new people too as part of the journey. It scares me because I want my happy ever after with someone I feel at peace with. I could EASILY have committed myself to this guy forever. Would I have been happy? Yes, but I don't think my soul would have ever felt truly settled as things are at the moment.
IamlovedbyG - I would LOVE and pray that our situation turned out the same as your sister, but I truly love the very bones of this guy. But I think that is a very optimistic, clouded view and is not ever likely to happen. So happy to hear that things can work out, and that love can still triumph over everything else
colourmylife1 and ooosaidooo, sorry to hear that you have also been through the same, or are not sure of your decisions. I am a firm believe in trusting your gut (even though I ignored mine half the time!), it isnt often wrong. I wish you both the best for the future.
In all - I have woken up today feeling broken and that my life is shattered. I am too ill to go to work as I cannot sleep at the moment and I am struggling to eat (although trying). The housing situation is complicated, which doesnt help. Moving back to parents I would feel like a failure, and tensions are high at home between parents (always have been, I am just mature enough to understand them now!). It would drive me insane, but I would be able to save more for a bigger deposit on another house. Renting in this area isnt possible - its is twice the price of a mortgage, and that is without bills! Or I could stay sharing the house (taking it in turns to sleep here), but then I am paying out, and it means a disrupted routine until one of us sorts somewhere else to live.
I hate that I still love him with all my heart and that I still loved our life, even though things were going wrong. I just don't know what to do with myself
The best thing to do is cut him out of your life completely. In my experience of being in this kind of relationship, the feelings you have are intensified by the conflict you have always had and the frustration you are left with.
If you have made a decision, go into it wholeheartedly. Now is the time to think of yourself and what you need.
VeronicaDinner - I agree I should just cut him out. But we have a house, assets and pets to divide and sort. We are trying to remain amicable enough so that financially neither of us loses out, but we've got several scenarios to consider.
Today I am struggling. I ache I miss him so much. I broke down badly yesterday at the thought of life without him. My friend is going through a divorce and she asked what was the thing I was scared of most (hers was being alone and other peoples opinions, but she was the one to call it quits). Ny response was to not wake up with him anymore, to not have us, to have absolutely nothing to do with each other after so long.
I can't cope. I can't sleep. I can barely function and I just don't know what to do (I'm keeping as busy as possible with friends and family).
I cannot relate to your post at all. It sounds very modern day fairy tale obsessed, especially when you don't sound compatible at all.
Your post has a slightly hysterical feel to it, IMO . Work on building your life and getting some perspective in your life.
I am married with 3 children. My DH is a wonderful man but I don't think we ever had years of pure joy, just some bloody good laughs along the way.
I'm with sofa.
I'm sorry to be brutal, but you sound like you're in love with the idea of being in love. And like you've ignored for too long that actually, one or both of you isn't.
Well done for not letting that limp on longer.
Did you ever have couples counselling? Why do you have him on a pedestal when there is so much fundamentally about him that doesn't meet your needs? I'm not even sure I'd say that you have him on a pedestal - more that you have an idea of a fairytale romance on a pedestal.
You seem unhealthily attached to the idea of "my happy ever after", and individual counselling might be useful.
Hi misszp,yes it is horrible to break up, yes it hurts like fuck but yes it will get better.
It takes time and you will be raw for a while. But as time passes it gets easier by tiny increments.
It does help if you can keep busy. Be kind to yourself, it is hard to come to terms with the realisation that your happy ever after with this guy is not to be.
Well done for realising it isn't working and being clearheaded enough to call it a day. If a relationship isn't right, no matter how hard you try to make it work or how many times you decide to give it another go, you are just delaying the inevitable.
Better to get out now while you are on good terms.
Good luck x
Agree with sofa you've made yourself believe you are madly in love when in fact it looks like you've been incompatible most of the time. Next time try and be a little bit more realistic about what love is
Thanks for your replies.
You are totally right about having him on a pedestal! I always have and I've no idea why I do, and I've no idea why I continue to allow him to take up head space when he doesn't meet my needs and hasn't done for along time. And actually I could find myself someone who does, because I do deserve the same love and support in return.
I wouldn't say I'm 'in love with the idea of a fairytale romance or being in love'. I love him. I care about him. We've been through a lot together, but out differences make us incompatible and it sucks I would say my posts are probably reflective of the moments when I am thinking 'shit' this really is over, because I tend to type when I'm in those moments of panic. I can cope in the moments where I take a breath and allow myself to think clearly. it's probably how I have written them!
He has a lot of issues he hasn't dealt with from childhood (which I don't want to put on here). I have always said they would come back to haunt his relationships and adult life if he didn't deal with them in some way. I think partly, I allow that to then spill over by thinking 'well he's not giving enough, but he has an excuse, I should give him benefit of the doubt'. I'm probably actually allowing him to continue because he has no need to change. And never has. No other relationship he had, has been long term, because he's always backed away, so for him this is all very raw and new too. I said to him along time ago about him, or us a couple, getting counseling. He flat point refuses to because he doesn't see why he should or how it would help.
I actually booked myself a counseling session a few weeks ago, before it ended, because I wanted to start trying to put myself first and to work out my own thoughts a bit. It's next week. I don't expect them to work miracles but maybe it will help me process why I've allowed myself to stay and become trapped in something that doesn't meet my needs.
Either way it doesn't change how much I am hurting
OP - I don't know how you cope, which is what your question was. I am struggling, too. Have you seen a relationship counsellor? I mean, on your own? It might help you deal with this, accept what is happening and move on. I am so sorry - and I know exactly what you're going through.
Seeing this for what it is won't make it hurt less today, in fact, it might make it hurt more.
But I really believe the hurt will last a shorter time... And at the very least will stop you from getting hurt the same way over and over again in future relationships.
The thing that will hurt more in the short term is accepting that this was not a relationship of pure joy days that love couldn't save - it was just a run of the mill unsuccessful relationship that was best put out of its misery.
All his childhood issues? Yawn. (directed at him, not you) Yet another person blaming their childhood but doing nothing about it - and why should he? You stuck around accommodating his shit (the selfishness, remember? This isn't a perfect romance) anyway without him changing. Cold and emotionally distant, you said. Not for you to fix love. And all too easy for you to latch into that instead of accepting that this isn't love.
You say earlier that the pair of you would have done anything to fix it, but he wouldn't, he wouldn't even go to counselling which is the go-to basic suggestion, really.
I'm really pleased for you that you're writing this hurting because you've ended it. Well done you.
Talk through in counselling why you accepted this role and why you tried to create a fairytale from nothing. His fuckery certainly plays into your 'against all odds' fairytale type life view.
I predict short term pain then you thinking "what the FUCK was I thinking? Oh well, live and learn".
You say your parents' marriage is bad but you only realise that now - so you do perhaps have a model of marriage as something shit that should be kept at all costs.
You say you feel awful, but one day you'll feel relief at not having him: selfish, cold, distant, unresolved childhood crap... good riddance.
OP, to be frank and to echo some other posters here: reading how you describe your current emotional state, how you say that your partner was your all, and how you've always been different in how you respond to situations and communicate with each other ... Reading all this, what has clearly happened is that the illusion of what you thought he was has finally worn thin enough to shatter. And your self worth has shattered along with that because what you were doing was projecting your unconscious needs and desires on to him.
To lose your identity in the way you have is to have placed it on to him, and so when you start to see the reality of who he is and has been all along, it will feel like you are losing an inextricable part of you.
Time to take yourself back; time to meet your own needs; time to stand in your own authority; time to support yourself. No one can be to you what you have to give yourself. But when you start doing this, then you're able to be in a relationship where you can let the other person be who they are because they no longer need to fill what you feel is missing inside you.
I think that in describing your ex as your 'happiness' you have identified the problem. You should be your own happiness. There are many possible relationship dynamics. Personally I feel that the best one is where each half of a couple can stand alone, and while there is leaning both ways for support, one does not completely rely on the other to stay standing, if you see what I mean. Obviously at hard times this balance shifts, but the normality should have balance.
Thank you for your replies.
Cabrinha - I think maybe you have hit the nail on the head perfectly. We were once in love, and we did have a very good relationship, but I am not sure at what point it became about him and only him. I seem to have let myself get sucked into this whirlpool, and I honestly don't know how. He has always had this aurora about I am that because I AM an emotional upfront person, that he is perhaps holier than thou, for being able to 'control' himself. He never said it, but you just knew that he thought too many feelings, allowing yourself to properly love and care for someone, was a weakness.
I actually really agree with the comment about my parents marriage. They stuck together and had their reasons, but if those reasons didn't exist, I am not so sure they would have. Yes they are relatively happy now, but I don't think they are the happiest that they could be, and it is based on formalities and loyalties. I guess I do very much have the view that you stick with the person you love, and you MAKE it work at all costs, regardless of your own health and happiness. It isn't something that's healthy, and is probably actually something I need to deal with at counseling (just to note, I have the most amazing parents, who brought me up with love and devotion. I certainly had a very happy childhood filled with laughter and good memories and in no way do I blame them for my outlook on relationships!).
I will state though, that he wasn't my ONLY happiness. I have good friends and family, hobbies, a good job which allows me to have a good social life, and flexibility with my work. In all, I am happy in life with those aspects, but it doesn't take away the pain of the shattered relationship, regardless of what we got right and what we got wrong. I also realise my own mistakes along the way.
Sitting tight and riding this out is just absolutely no fun though
It's not your differences which made you incompatible, it's how you deal with those differences.
If you truly loved each other then you would find a way to make it work. The fact that ending the relationship seems to be the answer you have come up with shows that dealing with the issues isn't something you feel you can face, ending it is the easy way out.
If you were to both sit down independently and make a list of the things that would need to change in order to make this relationship work what would you come up with? And him? What answers do you think he would come up with as to what should change for you to move forward as a couple?
I am not going to paint him as some kind of selfish bastard just because you need a justification to have ended it. In time you will come to your own conclusions as to why the relationship hasn't worked. However the fact that you are now at a point where you are actually ending things rather than working on the issues is a clear indication that there are insurmountable differences in your relationship which one or both of you don't want to overcome.
Love isn't the be all and end all to a relationship, but if you genuinely love each other, then it is a good starting point to working out the rest. But it has to come from both sides.
And while having a difficult childhood can sometimes explain why people act in the way they do, it doesn't justify it nor is it a get-out card. My DP has a childhood which would make any good therapist wince. I'm talking about abuse on the scale that he now has permanent disabilities as a result. and even now years on, sometimes there are things which could be attributed to the past, however the difference is that he doesn't expect dispensation for it neither does he use his past as a justification for behaving badly (which he doesn't, incidentally).
If your XP hasn't come to terms with whatever has happened in his childhood then he should seek the appropriate help to enable him to move forward rather than constantly looking back and allowing it to hold him back. But there is no justification for using his childhood as a get-out when he doesn't behave in a way which is conducive to building and maintaining a stable relationship.
Your life is your life and not a project with milestones, deliverables actions etc. Things change, people change and there is no "one size fits all" in a relationship.
I found it interesting to read your initial post, because it was "all about you", I this.. my bf, my rock etc. what are or were you to him?
Of course my post was about me, and how I felt, because I wrote it at a time when I was upset and hurting, but perhaps wrote it in the wrong tone. I didn't realise I came across in a way that doesn't actually portray the situation well.
When I think about it, I've no idea really what I was because his messages were often conflicting and he never spoke about much at all. Clearly we were serious - we bought a house and were very settled in all, but our differences were always quite obvious (but previously manageable) and they grew. I would like to think I was supportive of him, I cared, wanted to share a life with him, but also allowed him to be him. We had shared hobbies, but we also had our own social networks and time and hobbies away from each other. This relationship wasn't suffocating or unhealthy in any way (except perhaps my need to want it to work). There was no jealousy, no massive full blown arguments (of course there were small ones), no issues with trust as such. In all, on paper it should have been successful! But I know things and feelings don't sort like that.
Wannabe, I don't need anyone to paint him a certain way for justification to have ended it. It wasn't just my decision, it was very mutual, because we had no answers left I'm tired. Tired of not putting myself first, tired of not being happy and our relationship actually being about him. How long do you continue with that before you say no more? I don't believe he will change, nor do I believe he will ever see the need to whilst I continue to stand by him, because he has no need to, and therefore doesn't want to. I have my faults too, but I felt like I was working on mine, with little effort back.
He is by no means a bad person, he has some good qualities which I adore and makes this harder, however he IS selfish and he is emotionally distant, he freely admits it to me. Therein lies just one of the problems.
He wasn't prepared to necessarily compromise on some things which would have been conducive to the relationship, just like dealing with his childhood. And I 10000% agree that no one should use it as an excuse, particularly if they choose not to try and deal with those issues. After 6 over years I am finally realising that. I am sorry to hear of your partners history- no one should ever have to go through anything like that.
I realise sometimes my posts seem slightly hysterical, but I'm also trying to use this thread as an outlet, to take advice from and to read back on because I know it will provide many sobering words.
Even if the decision was the right one, I still hurt. At the moment I feel so confused about it all. I just want this pain to go away
The best way to feel better is to have no contact with him other than to split the assets/sell your property and break up practicalities. Anything else is just adding to the pain and drama.
Agree with PPs that your description of him as your best friend, rock, happiness etc isn't ideal.
It also sounds like things came to the crunch (DC) and the relationship just wasn't right.
If you want DC and are now 30s don't waste time over your ex: avoid him, grieve and move on.
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