My now-ex partner, “Jaye,” and I broke up recently after being together for 2.5 years and living together for a little less than two years. Things were great; we had such deep love and connection, and – being in our mid-20s – we talked about the future frequently and were genuinely excited for it. But for the past year, I’ve been increasingly struggling with my mental health. During this time, Jaye has felt increasingly unloved and unappreciated. I feel absolutely horrible for letting things get to this point and for being so complacent.
After mutually expressing that we had felt like roommates for the last few months, we agreed to take a 2-week break while they went on a planned family trip. I did a lot of apologizing for my actions and acknowledging the hurt I caused, which they appreciated and said was reassuring to hear. We had a great few days before they left that felt truly magical and seemed indicative of us being able to work things out. But when Jaye came back, they told me they ended things.
Jaye says they still love me deeply, but feel disconnected and simply have “no fight in them” for all the hard work required to resurrect this. The thing is . . . we share a dog and plan to keep living together. I see things going one of two ways: Either continuing to cohabitate gives us a unique opportunity to rebuild a healthier foundation, reconnect, and give things another go; or, it will just make it all the more excruciating when one or the other starts dating other people and/or eventually moves out entirely. I feel like we’re in purgatory!
I know that I have a lot to work through on my own and am committed to doing so regardless, but I’m wondering how you’d recommend navigating this new dynamic with the additional goal of repairing our relationship in mind. I’m not putting definitive stock in it, nor am I working on myself in service of this exclusively. At the most basic level, I hate that I inadvertently mistreated and took for granted the person I care about most in this world, and I sincerely want my ex to see that I’m capable of being an attentive, loving person again – regardless of the form our relationship takes in the long run. Any insight you might have would be tremendously appreciated. — Hoping for a Resurrection
I think it would be really hard for two people to repair a relationship that they’ve put on pause while exploring their own independent identities, doing their internal work for mental health, and potentially even dating other people all while living under the same roof. These things aren’t all necessarily mutually exclusive – you can live with a partner while doing internal mental health work, for example – put you can’t do all of these things together in any kind of meaningful way. You can’t be equally committed to working on yourself as you are to repairing your relationship with Jaye. Your relationship can’t be resurrected until you are in a much more stable place mentally; you can’t get to a much more stable place if you are focused on repairing a relationship that’s on hold, especially with you live with your ex-partner.
You and I both know that living – physically living – inside a relationship dynamic that is not the dynamic you want for the relationship sounds pretty unhealthy. If you are serious about addressing your mental health issues, you need to free up head space for that pursuit and avoid anything that compromises it. Keep your eyes on the prize, which is the stability necessary to manage a well-balanced life with loving relationships in which everyone feels equally supported and appreciated. That goes for anyone you’re close with, including Jaye, no matter what form your relationship takes going forward.
If you’re both serious about staying in each other’s lives, I think your best chance of that happening is if you stop living together and build a new kind of foundation for your new kind of relationship. Because whether that relationship shifts into a platonic one and stays there or a romance is resurrected, it’s going to be a completely different relationship than it has been. It has to be. You want it to be. The relationship you’ve had for the past year no longer made either of you happy. You have to create a new one, and that is going to be MUCH easier to do when you have your own places – your own space to figure some things out.
As for your dog, let that be a great way to maintain ties with your ex. You can figure out a custody/visitation schedule that allows you both time with the dog and gives you built-in time with each other that you can build a new friendship around as your emotional and physical availability allows. From that friendship, you’ll build a new foundation, and in time you can mutually decide whether or not to build higher or just enjoy the new place your relationship gets to live.