“I Regret Signing a Lease with My Partner”

I recently signed a lease with my partner, “Liz.” Initially, this was my idea. She had to move out soon anyway due to her current lease ending, so I thought why not do it together? However, since signing the lease, all I feel is dread and severe anxiety. I tend to do this – I never think things through properly. I romanticise things and only think more deeply and logically when it’s too late.

I know I love Liz, but I’ve had doubts in the past about whether I’m in love with her – two different things. I used to ignore these feelings because she’s such a good, kind, and attentive person. I used to tell myself I was being silly: How can you not love her? But this experience is making me over-analyse everything and I can’t shake the constant sick feeling in my stomach that I’m making a mistake – I can’t eat, sleep, or focus. Liz isn’t anxious or doubtful at all, which makes me feel like such a bad person, especially as I’m the one that pushed this.

I can’t back out now as the lease has been signed and the deposit paid for. But I’m scared I’ve set us up for failure and that I’ll be miserable and regretful. I can always go back to my parents if it doesn’t work out, which is a comfort, but Liz won’t have anywhere else to go, which makes me feel worse, and she wouldn’t be able to afford the apartment on her own.

I feel so guilty and I hate myself so much for putting myself, and her, in this situation. I don’t want to mess up her life or break her heart down the line. I can’t talk to her about it either as it’s already a done deal and I don’t want to upset her. So what can I do to help these feelings? What does all this mean? — Regrets Signing That Lease

It doesn’t sound to me like you are questioning whether you’re in love with Liz; it sounds like you already figured out what your feelings are, but you decided to ignore them, wishing they’d change or that it wouldn’t matter if you weren’t in love with Liz – that maybe somehow just loving her and liking her would be enough. It sounds to me like that’s exactly what the shared lease is supposed to help you figure out. And lucky you to have a soft place to land if this experiment leads you to the decision that a non-romantic kind of love isn’t enough for you to sustain a romantic relationship.

There are two things you can do now: break the lease, take the financial hit, break up, and move on. Liz will have all the feelings you’re afraid she’s going to have, and she will be fine. In six months, her life will be back on track. She’ll be in an apartment she can afford either alone or with a roommate, and her heart will be healing (maybe already healed!) and she will be a long way into picking up the pieces of your broken relationship.

The second thing you can do is not break the lease, move in with Liz, continue feeling all the anxiety and dread you feel now, eventually break up with Liz, and move on – perhaps at the one-year mark of your lease, thereby saving yourselves the financial hit of losing your deposit but still paying for moving costs twice in 12 months and so not even really saving yourself much money at all. Maybe you’ll even lose money that way if moving costs are higher than the deposit. AND you will have delayed Liz’s getting over you and moving on. Instead of being back on track in six months, she won’t be back on track for at least 18 months.

You’re not doing anyone any favors indulging in this experiment. It’s selfish, and, frankly, cowardly. And I don’t mean you’re a coward for not breaking up with Liz; I mean, it’s cowardly to give in to the fear of being alone. Feel it and accept it and live authentically in spite of the fear. Quit denying yourself the opportunity of finding a person who’s a true match in all the most meaningful ways. Don’t settle for a platonic kind of love if what you want is romantic love. As you’ve learned, they are not the same, and the former won’t fulfill the need and want for the latter. It just won’t.

In the end, losing a deposit is a small price to pay for sparing two people a year of disappointment and potentially years of resentment afterward.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. Anonymousse says:

    Why do you think you pushed this? She didn’t? It was all your idea?

    Wendy nailed it. You’re doing no good to her, you or anyone by pretending to love someone you do, in fact know for certain that you are not in love with. Do you share with her that you are wracked with anxiety and worry now? Are you honest with her? If you are being honest, what do you tell her when she asks what your worried about? Why you signed a lease escapes me, but there you are. I hope you break the news admirably with respect. Don’t lead her on or leave the window open. Don’t be “friends.” She needs space to move on from you.

    It doesn’t sound like a good way to go through life, making quick, rash decisions that affect you but – somewhat crucially- you are (however unintentionally you choose to view your actions) through your non thinking- hurting someone else effectively, by maintaining a ruse of love and taking a very serious step in a relationship when you really want to break up. I am sure you are struggling, obviously you are, but you should choose to be single and work through your anxiety/relationship issues in therapy and not on other people.

  2. PassingBy says:

    You say you romanticise things and only think more deeply and logically when it’s too late.

    Knowing this, maybe you should try adding a delay to big decisions. Make your decision, but don’t actually move forward with it. Check back in a couple weeks later and see if you still think it’s a good decision.

  3. Anonymousse says:

    Call the landlord and break the lease now. Tell them there’s an emergency k you lost your job, whatever and tell her the truth as well. Don’t be stagnant in her feelings and a lease. Don’t wait on this and make the next year a hell for you or her.

  4. Sandra M. says:

    Liz’s partner should move back home and help her pay the rent for the rest of the year-long lease (doesn’t have to be half, but enough to help her afford it). Maybe keep dating if moving out removed the pressure, or maybe break up, but keep contributing to the rent until the lease ends and she can find a housing situation that suits her better.

  5. All the advice above and also therapy to find out and fix why you are so anxious to lock down your partner in a new relationship before you even know that you definitely want a relationship with that person. When you find yourself explaining by parsing the difference between loving her and being in love with her it sounds both like excuse making and total emotional muddle.

  6. Elizabeth McFadden says:

    I like the suggestion of moving home but continuing to help pay the rent for a year. If he’s not paying rent at home, that will at least allow Liz time to heal without the stress of moving and the financial panic of finding a new place to live.

    If OP can do this – or even do it for 6 months – it will make it easier on Liz.

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