“Should I Allow My Girlfriend to Break Up With Me?”

I have been dating my girlfriend for six years. I really love her and she loves me too, but we’ve had lots of issues along the way. Some years back she cheated on me. She confessed and promised not to do it again. She slept with a guy she met while she traveled for her mandatory one-year service. I forgave her and continued with the relationship. Over the years she was always complaining that I was too nonchalant about our relationship, and I promised to change. She still wasn’t satisfied with my attitude, and early this year she broke up with me, saying that she was tired of my attitude.

I begged her for three months before she came back to me. While we were broken up, she started having an affair with a guy in her office who she claimed loved her and treated her well. She came back to me because she couldn’t get over me and wanted to make our relationship work. I tried to make things OK this time around so as not to lose her again, but this morning she called me saying she wants out of the relationship because she’s tired of waiting for me. She wants to get married. She’s going to be 29 this month. She said time is against her. I don’t have a well-paying job and I still live with my parents. She believes I can’t take care of her financial needs. She said that, as a guy, I can always get a young girl to marry and have a family with but that she, as a girl, will have trouble finding someone and having kids if she waits much longer.

I tried to convince her this morning to stay with me, but she remains adamant. I don’t know what to do. Should I allow her to go or keep convincing her to stay? I’m really going to miss her. She’s been there for me. The issue I have is that I can’t afford to start a family now. I’m not paid well. Please, I need you to tell me what to do. — Not Ready To Have a Family

First of all, you don’t “allow” someone to go who doesn’t want to be with you. It’s not like she’s asking for or needs your permission to break up with you. She’s been honest with you about what her needs are. And you are honest that you can’t meet them at this time. This is more honest than many couples who write to me for advice, and, really, I commend both of you for that part, at least.

Now, while your girlfriend doesn’t need your permission to leave, you CAN still fight for her. But the only way you’re going to persuade her to stay with you is by convincing her that you will be able to meet her needs in a satisfactory (for her) time frame. And for that, you need a plan. Do you have one? Do you have a plan for eventually getting a better paying job and moving out of your parents’ home? If so, when do you expect that to realistically happen? If you don’t even have a plan other than “some day,” or you have a plan but you haven’t started it yet, you won’t be able to persuade your girlfriend, and the kindest thing you can do (for her and for you) is to not fight.

Let this breakup be clean and amicable. Wish her well. Tell her you love her and love the time you’ve had together but don’t want to hold her back from her dreams. You’ve already broken up a couple of times. It’s clear you have feelings for each other and are drawn to one another, but that’s not enough to make a relationship work. Love isn’t enough. And your girlfriend, as you say, has been adamant about that.

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


  1. I like Wendy’s advice. I don’t think the right thing to do here is to fight for her, not if you can’t concretely change the situation. And probably not even then. What would almost certainly happen is that she’d break up with you once again. That’s the established pattern here. There’s something that attracts you together, but it’s not enough to make it work and make her want to commit to this long-term. You may be able to pull her back in each time with promises and sweet behavior, but ultimately she’ll be dissatisfied and want out. I’m also going to venture a guess that she has a back-burner guy. Just let her go, and work on doing what you need to do to find a better position and make a life away from your parents’ house. NOT that I think that is the central / true issue in her wanting to break up with you, but I mean, it’s probably time to do that.

  2. Dude. Move on for hers and your own sake. You sound pathetic and pussy whipped (she cheated on you dude). Besides, if you haven’t started making moves in your career at this point of your life, I doubt you ever will.

    Milennials drive me crazy.

    1. You were way too harsh here. He’s asking for legitimate advice. Not to mention…people who lump Milennials together in one huge group while making assumptions and developing stereotypes drive ME crazy.

      1. Me too. The more I hear about these crazy millenials, the more I think the label would apply to my aunt when she was my age, maybe even my uncle or grandpa. But they have the luxury of time on their side.

      2. Kids these days!! Jeez! 😉

  3. Laura Hope says:

    It’s not about persuading her to stay. It’s about deciding whether or not it’s time to get off mommy’s couch and get out in the real world. Best thing my father ever did for us was to kick us out at 25.

  4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Ugh, these letters (or these women, I should say), drive me bonkers. Why is it socially acceptable for a woman to look for a man with money. She’s not leaving him solely bc he doesn’t make enough. I get that we are trying not to judge what people are after in relationships, but shit if LW is 29 and wants to start a family, then why is SHE not making that happen by finding a better paying job for herself, etc? I say the LW dodged a bullet.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Ugh, I should proofread first. She is leaving him just because of money. That’s terrible, I say. And do to really want to be with someone who is terrible, LW? Nah. (Yes, I’m judging.)

      1. Sue Jones says:

        As the main breadwinner of our family I can see both sides. I sure wished when I had a young child that I could have stayed home for a while longer than the 3 months I saved my own money for. And maybe I would have even had another kid besides. But I couldn’t so I didn’t. The GF knows what she wants and what she is looking for. Maybe the GF has a well paying job and wants to marry someone who can be an equal partner. I sure wouldn’t want to marry someone who lived in his mom’s basement and had a low paying job.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I can’t argue with that. I’m picturing a girlfriend sitting there with a low-paying job and just expecting someone to swoop in with a high-paying job so she can have all she wants. And even if she is… well, that’s the part I have a hard time not judging.

      3. Yes, I agree. It’s not so much the lack of money but the lack of plan and lack of action. This was always my ex bf’s excuse. That he didn’t have enough money. And I told him countless times that I didn’t care how much money he made, that our income combined would be enough, but he still couldn’t come up with a plan to move out of his mother’s house (good thing I didn’t end up living with him and supporting him financially).

      4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        ok, but assuming it’s just the money. you still OK with the girlfriend’s reasons? if a friend’s girlfriend said “i want to break up with you because you don’t make enough money to support me,” I’d tell my friend good riddance.

      5. If that’s what it’s about, then she’s shallow and needs to go make her own damn money. But we can’t really know. We’re only getting one side of the story.

      6. Yeah I didn’t read it that she wants him to be solely responsible for taking care of her, more that she doubts his ability to be able to be a solid partner given his apparent lack of motivation.
        Of course, your interpretation could just as easily be true. It’s was the defeatist tone of the letter that made me think LW might have a bit of trouble with motivation. Maybe it’s a little of both- he’s not ambitious enough and she’s got a slight bit of gold digger in her?

      7. Now that I read it again, I’m starting to think the defeatist tone comes from being brow beaten by this woman for 6 years.
        You know what, LW? Regardless of what the truth is, you need to look out for yourself. Do whatever feels right, but put yourself first. What do YOU want from life (and not just her)? Go after that.

      8. Ele4phant says:

        Eh is she leaving him because she’s shallow and wants a guy who makes a lot money, or because she wants to be with someone who has aspirations beyond living at home with his mom. I can’t say whether or not this woman is shallow, but in general I think it’s legit to want to have someone who is an equal partner to you and has a certain amount of ambition and purpose in life.

      9. I agree. Especially when you are looking to have children in the near future.
        Frankly, if the ex wrote in and said “I’ve been with this guy in a turbulent relationship for 6 years. I’m 29, and I really want to start a family soon. He still lives with his mom and doesn’t have the ability to support a child. I cannot support both of us and a baby on my own. Currently, he doesn’t really have any career plans or plans to move out of his mom’s house. Should I leave him? Should I wait around for him to get his life together? Or should I go ahead and have a baby with him, hoping that will motivate him to change?” I think a lot of us would tell her to MOA and under no circumstances to have children with this guy.
        Why is she a bad person or shallow for figuring that out on her own and acting accordingly?

      10. Avatar photo possumgirl says:

        Yeah, she’s a bitch, but I don’t get why is she a gold digger for saying “I want a lifestyle that he cannot afford, so I’m moving on”. Why is that such a terrible thing to say? I mean COME ON, he’s living at home with his parents, and he’s already whined and guilted her into coming back once and after she cheated on him! And he doesn’t say “I’m in graduate school and won’t finish for two years” or “I just started my own business and things haven’t taken off yet”. Mr. Mealy-Mouthed needs to give up on Scarlett O’Hara and focus on building his own life. In his own apartment.

      11. It’s not terrible to leave someone because you have goals for your life (kids, a comfortable lifestyle where you’re not constantly scraping by), and your partner doesn’t have the same goals(which this guy clearly doesn’t, since he’s still living with Mom). To say “she’s leaving him for money” is not really accurate; she’s leaving him because their dreams and ambitions are not in sync.

  5. I definitely think this relationship has run its course and the best thing you can do is NOT “fight” for her to come back. You’re just going to extend the inevitable.
    I really think you both need a change in your perspectives. She needs to realize that just because she’s turning 29 doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a chance at marriage and a family. I’m kind of sick of women thinking that their lives will end at 30. That’s probably the most ridiculous thing ever. There are PLENTY of people who get married and have kids in their mid 30’s. Granted, she didn’t see the relationship going in the direction she was looking for and she DID make the right decision there. And LW I think you need to start thinking about moving out. Whether that means you find an additional job so you can support yourself or you find a different job entirely, moving out would be a great step for you.
    Remember: just because you love someone deeply doesn’t mean that you are meant to be with them forever.

    1. Good to know life doesn’t end at 30. I’ll be turning 30 in less than a month 🙂

      1. I’m actually 26 so I’m not even 30 yet! 🙂 Hahaha. But I have friends who are all “woe is me! 30 is soooo close!!!” which is getting old (pun very much intended). I mean…come on.

      2. I was on the el a while back and had to listen to a girl for 30 plus minutes complain about how life is over at 25. But hey, at least she can rent a car now. She was talking to what i can only assume was a coworker. And when she asked how old he was, and he said 30, she was like ohhh…..

      3. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        I’m turning 30 in 2 DAYS. Good to know! haha.

  6. I think people are being way harsh to this LW. What if he’s happy in his low paying job? Money does not equal happiness. I’m sure it helps, but it’s not everything.
    Personally, I think this girl sounds kind of shallow. She cheats on him. She begs for his forgiveness. She goes back to him. She does this all the while knowing he’s not enough for her. I think she’s toying with and using him as a crutch.
    LW, if I were you, I would MOA. Figure out what it is you do want. and go after it – NOT HER. I just don’t see this working out in the long run.
    Also, I know I said people are harsh, and they kind of are, but I would move out of your mom’s house. Just sayin’.

    1. Yeah as I mentioned above, it’s not so much about the money. It’s about the lack of plan/action. Money doesn’t matter much, as long as you have a plan for moving the relationship forward and you’re taking action to make that happen. Sounds like this LW wasn’t taking any action at all. Doesn’t mean it was ok for her to cheat on him though.

      1. How are things? Was the dinner with your friend fun?

      2. Yes, it was really great 🙂 Thanks for thinking of me!

    2. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      People are being harsh, but when someone says should I *allow* her to break up go? Hard to be nice. She’s no prize either clearly, but someone who is currently not able to live on their own, has no plan of action isn’t great either–especially when you add the controlling nature of allowing her to break up with him.

      1. Lily in NYC says:

        I really think the “allow” thing is being blown out of proportion because of the headline. I read it more as “should I let her go” in more of a “stop fighting for her” kind of way, not in a “giving permission” context.

      2. I agree, I also didn’t read it as “I’m not gonna let her break up with me!” If the LW meant it like that, not cool, but yeah, it was more of a counterpoint to doing something about the situation.

      3. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        He uses the term allow in his letter: ” Should I allow her to go or keep convincing her to stay?” Allow is a verb that should NEVER be used in this manner. He has zero say in the matter. He has a say if they get back together, but no say about her leaving.

      4. Lily in NYC says:

        Yes, I read it. I just don’t think he meant it in the context of permission and meant “let her go” as in “if you love someone set them free”. I don’t even think English is his first language – are there any english speaking countries that have a mandatory year of service? There’s nothing else in the letter that leads me to believe he is controlling and considering “forcing” her to stay. He basically wrote “should I convince her to stay or let her be”.

      5. Taiwan, Israel and some Scandinavian country(ies)
        But I think it’s obvious he can’t stop her, and the word allow is just about whether he tries to woo her back yet again. I wouldn’t be surprised if the couple was in North America, using the wrong word is not very uncommon these days.

      6. There are even fewer counties that have mandatory service for women.

      7. Oh believe me, I was ready to jump on him for the headline alone. Then I read the letter. I don’t think he meant it the way it came across. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt there.
        However, I do agree he needs to grow up a bit.

  7. Avatar photo fast eddie says:

    Let’s cut to the chase LW. Grow up, get out of your mama’s house, do whatever preparation it takes to make a decent wage, forget the sweetie that’s been putting up with you for 6 years and take responsibility for your in-actions.

  8. So to recap she has cheated on you, broken up with you, complained about not meeting her needs through out and broken up with you again since you aren’t in a financial place to have a family? This is not the girl for you. At the very leas you are in different stages of life – her wanting kids and you sill unable to be independent much less in a position to support a family. But more telling is that she was dissatisfied with you before the marriage discussion was on the table. Your relationship is too unstable to support kids – even if you had the money for them. So wish her well, and then start seeing about yourself. If you want a family one day then take the steps you need to take to have them. Get a better paying job, move out on your own and eventually find someone more suited to you that doesn’t constantly complain about your attitude, cheat on you or break up with you multiple times.

    1. You said this much better than I.

      1. * I did.

  9. Never mind your girl friend. I mean, your ex-girlfriend. That boat sailed along time back. Done, over, finito. Are you willing to fight for YOUR OWN LIFE? Because i’m sure your ma will be glad to wash your undies for you until your combover becomes unmanageable. Hot meals every night, just the way you like ’em. Grilled cheese, chocolate milk and an apple for lunch. Or you could get out into the world and kick some ass.

    1. “Or you could get out into the world and kick some ass.”
      Love that, Diablo! This is how all motivational speeches should end.

  10. We keep glossing over the fact that she cheated…TWICE! And with not too much remorse it sounds like. So she clearly isn’t satisfied with who you are bc she keeps seeking out other men who aren’t you and she doesn’t approve of your lifestyle….so how is this girl a six year keeper? She’s not into you, she just wants a baby and to change you in to the man she wants. Despite your living situation I’m willing to bet you’re not a bad guy so have done self respect and tell her she had to love you for you. You don’t deserve to be cheated on no matter the circumstances. Find a girl who doesn’t mind your lifestyle and wants you and only you and won’t cheat and leave at the first chance she gets!! You will be so much happier. I mean…even if you settle down with her, get a job on wall street and help raise her baby, she’ll just cheat and leave again

  11. The ex-girlfriend pointing the finger and saying how you don’t measure up is nothing new in your relationship, huh? She’s complained of this or that over the years and taken the opportunities to road-test some other guys all while you’ve just been being you, living where you live, earning what you earn, floating along it sounds like. I’m sorry but this is not a love match for the ages – move along, little dogie.

  12. No one should ever wait until they have enough money to raise a family because it will almost never happen. On the other hand, being aware of financial issues and the potential impact on a marriage is smart.

    LW: this woman doesn’t love you. She’s being showing you that for years now but you keep persuading her to return to you. Turn her loose and turn your heart loose. You deserve someone who loves you for you.

    1. RedroverRedrover says:

      I don’t know if that’s the case. Almost everyone I know waited until they were financially stable. But in general you shouldn’t wait for the “perfect” time, because it’s true that that will probably not happen. You pretty much always have to give something up.

  13. It doesn’t bug me that much that LW lives in his moms house, that would technically let him own a home much sooner than he could if he moved out and rented while trying to save up. I’m curious about what the LW does for a living and what else he wants to do (if anything.) all he says is “my job doesn’t pay a lot,” with the tone seeming to imply he wouldn’t mind this situation if his (ex)girlfriend hadn’t pointed out that it didn’t meet her needs.

  14. grow-up dude – and she cheated on you. i moved out my parents’ house at 19. I worked 2 jobs. How old are you?

  15. When he characterized her fling while they were not together as an “affair,” did anyone else want to yell “We were on a break!”

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