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She told me that it was kinda too late for me, and that she wants to be alone and be on her own. She was very clear that, if I forced her to come back, we’ll only regret being together. It’s really difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that we’re now separated. I know I need to move on and look out for myself and it won’t help me holding on since she’s decided about it. I know it will be up to her if she will come back. I hope you can help enlighten me and help me slowly accept reality. — Feeling Regret
I can certainly help enlighten you though it will be up to you to accept the reality (and I’d advise accepting it faster than more “slowly,” since coming to terms with things too slowly hasn’t worked well for you thus far). Here’s the deal: In the scenario you’ve presented here, you are the one who hasn’t changed. Sure, you’ve convinced yourself that in the month that you’ve been broken up from your girlfriend of nine and a half years, whom you refused to commit to long-term or take seriously for the latter half of your relationship, you’ve suddenly had a change of heart and ARE ready to settle down with her. But that’s not true. You just aren’t used to being the one not calling the shots and it feels really uncomfortable – to have your fate in someone else’s hands. Probably for the first time in nine and a half years with your girlfriend, SHE is the one saying, “Nah, I’m good. I don’t want to take this further,” and it sucks, doesn’t it? It sucks to have the script flipped and not know what the next scene is going to be.
Here’s the next scene: For a little while, you will both miss each other a lot. You will feel some regret – a lot at first, and then the sharp edges of that regret will soften and you’ll be able to settle into it a little more comfortably until, finally, it’s not something that keeps you awake anymore or gives you knots in your stomach or catches you in an otherwise peaceful moment and fills you with a sudden burst of self-loathing. In time, you will grow more accustomed to not having your ex in your life and the missing of her will feel less acute and she won’t be the first person you think to text or call when you have news to share. First you’ll go an hour without thinking of her, then hours plural, and finally an entire afternoon will pass without giving her a thought. In the evening, you might see a meme or catch a headline that makes you think of her and you’ll be tempted to text a link. Don’t do it.
The pain you’re feeling now is not as great as the pain she’s feeling. For years, she dreamed of marrying you. She pinned hopes on your changing your mind about refusing this. She probably endured shame and her own self-loathing during this long wait. And now, not only is she missing you – not only has she let go of you and your relationship, but also she has let go of a dream she held close – probably the dream she has held tightest for years, and it’s an incredibly transformative yet difficult thing to let go of a dream. You didn’t share her dream and so, for you, the ending of your relationship, while sad and full of regret, is not the same. You don’t have to bury a dream and re-imagine a future you spent years trying to wish into existence. It’s just different.
If you have any love for your ex – if you miss her like you say you do and care for her like you should someone you suddenly think you want to settle down with – the best way to express that love now is to stay away from her. Resist any urge to reach out, to beg for her back, to tell her how you want to marry her now. Just stay away. She deserves a love story that doesn’t include years of rejection and always wondering why you weren’t able to commit sooner – why it took your own broken heart to finally appreciate how broken hers must have been all that time you kept telling her no.
You *do* realize how broken her heart has been for years, don’t you? If you are new to the sensation of a broken heart, you know it now. It’s overwhelming and desperate and stirs every instinct in us to fight against it. To sit with a broken heart – to move through the stages of grief in its path without trying to manipulate someone else’s path through grief—is the most gracious way we can accept a relationship’s end and the very best way we can honor the love once shared and the love that can still remain in memory if we resist the urge to touch it.
I know most people may not have a problem just moving in with a man and his grandmother, but I have a 12-year-old daughter and I want her to feel comfortable in her own house. My boyfriend at first wanted me to move into his house, but I said no, that I want to buy our own house together and start fresh. He agreed with that. He wants to move forward and is getting ready to sell his house, but I see the weight of not knowing what to do with his grandmother upsetting him.
I get mad at the fact that his grandmother has lived a life relying on other people and puts this guilt on my boyfriend. He has given her the run of his house for the past nine years, and when he told her that he wants to marry me and move on, the first words out of her mouth were, “Just make sure I’m taken care of!”
He looks at his grandmother as a martyr since his mother (the grandmother’s daughter) was never home and his grandmother would watch him as a child. So he feels he owes her. I cannot tell him that that isn’t the case because he gets upset with me and says I don’t understand. Am I wrong for not wanting her to move into our new home? I know he loves her, but I’m looking out for my daughter’s best interest and, honestly, I think it would be healthy for him to break away from her a little bit.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate your help in any way. — Granny’s Got to Go
If you are truly looking out for your daughter’s best interest, quit talking about moving in with a guy who has lived a lifestyle for at least the past nine years that you are uncomfortable with and think is unhealthy. This is a classic situation of “he would be perfect if he could just change this one little thing.” For him, the little thing is he has taken full responsibility of his grandmother and shows no signs of ever living apart from her. For someone else, the little thing might be alcoholism, or a gambling addiction, or a marriage to someone else, or a child you don’t get along with, or an ex who is still very much in the picture, or 1500 miles between you and no interest in moving.
The thing that keeps someone from being the right someone differs from relationship to relationship, but the beginning is always the same: You believe you can be the one to get the other person to change – to stop drinking, to get a divorce, to create healthy boundaries with his ex/grown child/dependent grandmother. And just like the beginning, the ending is always the same, too: You can’t change anyone. A person has to be willing and interested in making the change himself, and your boyfriend has not made it clear to you that he is. And, frankly, after only ten months together and with a 12-year-old daughter who should be your number one priority, it would be a huge, HUGE mistake to push him on this. Moving in with someone before your relationship is ready for that kind of commitment is bad enough when the move only affects the people in the relationship, but when there’s a child in the picture, you need to slow things way down and move forward only when it feels right for everyone involved. You are far from that place.