Break it off or stay together?

Our elder weighs in on what really matters when a relationship is at stake.

Dear EWC:

Hello! I’m hoping you can help me. Over the last month, I have been doubting whether or not to break up with my boyfriend. There are different things that are making my decision harder to take. The first one is that I’m finding it really hard to accept that I don’t love him anymore as a partner; he has done nothing wrong. It’s just that my romantic feelings have faded away somehow. I care a lot about him and I still love him as my best friend, and I would be really heartbroken to lose contact with him when I’m so used to talking to him so much.

I also fear that I will lose many friends as many people know me because of him, and I believe that I have beautiful friendships with these people but they would not directly keep contact with me as I only see them ‘via’ my boyfriend. Another reason is that I’m scared of regret, that my choice was bad and that I shouldn’t have broken up because like I’ve said before, I don’t want to lose my best friend. I believe that it is an assumption that the person who decides to break up is normally not hurting afterward, but I know that it will definitely not be the case for me.

The last factor is that I’m his first girlfriend; therefore he is very sensitive and emotional and he doesn’t fully know what is right or wrong in a relationship. This is the main reason why I think I’ve lost feelings for him, he just kept treating me as his friend and when I talked to him about it honestly he became needy. I hope you can help me find clarity in my situation to be able to find a solution. Have an amazing day!

Joseph replies:

Your feelings for your boyfriend have changed. You know in your heart that you probably want to break up with him, but the thought of this makes you anxious for a lot of reasons. What’s your best course of action?

First I want to give you credit for taking this decision so seriously. It shows a lot of character on your part. Whatever you decide to do, you can at least feel good that you thought it through to the best of your ability.

Relationships often begin with fireworks, but once the initial rush of emotions settles down, we get to know our partners on a deeper level, their likes, dislikes, habits, the way they communicate, their emotional profile, etc. Over time the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle from a recognizable whole. This picture may or may not match up with our initial impression of that person. What seemed like a sure thing at first may seem uncomfortable at a later date. One can never predict how things may shake out, Julia, regardless of how convinced that we may be about our romantic destiny.

Feelings change. It’s okay. It’s natural. It’s nothing to feel bad about. It’s understandable – and admirable – that you want to take your boyfriend’s feelings into consideration, but this should not guide your decision. You must first be true to yourself. Neither you nor your boyfriend will benefit from a relationship that your heart is not into all the way. It would be like a ship drifting sideways instead of forward. And as far as your mutual friends go, that’s secondary. Your first responsibility is to your relationship. You’ll just have to accept whatever fallout you might experience with your group of friends. My sense is that if you feel a strong connection to these friends, the feeling is probably mutual. Let the strength of your friendships determine what comes next.

Every meaningful decision we make comes with the possibility of regret. We can’t always know for sure if our decision is the right one. But we can be thoughtful in our decision-making, giving us the best chance for success. You are doing that right now. You’ve thought about it a lot, and you’ve gone the extra step to write in for a second opinion. And now you’ll have to reflect on the facts and make the best decision you can. If you follow your heart, I don’t think you can go wrong.
I hope I have shed some helpful light on your situation. If anything I said is not clear, or if you would want to discuss this further, please feel free to write back. I’d be happy to hear from you.

Category: Relationship
Letter #458109

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