Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Are We Headed To A Break Up?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for a little over 4 years now. Our relationship is one of those relationships where everyone considers our relationship the “perfect relationship”. My girlfriend and I fought pretty often about 2 years ago and we stopped, communicated, and decided that neither of us would like to leave our relationship because we were so in love.

Suddenly, we have began to argue again and honestly I didn’t even notice with my busy schedule and hectic life. Two nights ago, I noticed that she was acting very weird so I asked her what’s wrong and she told me that she noticed that we’re fighting again. I love her very deeply and I do not want to lose her. She told me that she loves me so much but she promised herself all of her life that she will not stay in a relationship that she is too comfortable with, and she wants to be genuinely happy. I feel that I have not been showing her the proper attention that she deserves and this is because I have been almost depressed lately because I lost my job and college overwhelms me.

When we were talking two nights ago she said that she didn’t know if she wanted to stay in this relationship because she was afraid that we would be wasting our time and only hurt ourselves more if we ever broke up because we tried once before to fix our relationship and here we are arguing again. We ended up agreeing to working on our relationship once more - mainly because I convinced her to try again.

What should we do?

Confused College Lesbian

DEAR CONFUSED COLLEGE LESBIAN: I hate to say it, CCL, but I suspect that you’re going to be having this conversation again in the near future.

A fact of the matter is: no matter how good your relationship is, you’re going to fight. Put two or more people together in a relationship and conflict will inevitably arise. It’s part and parcel of being individuals with their own wants, needs and concerns. Those will inevitably bump up against the other’s wants and needs and concerns and then boom: conflict. Never fighting doesn’t mean that your relationship is healthy; it’s entirely possible for a couple in a toxic relationship to never fight because one person rides roughshod over the other or someone has just learned to swallow their problems because their partner will just never address it.

It’s in how you fight that defines whether or not a relationship is in trouble. If your fights end with good-faith attempts to resolve the problem? That’s generally a good sign… as long as things actually get fixed, anyway. But if it just becomes a question of who is Less To Blame? That ain’t good.

Now, it’s possible that your relationship has come to its natural end. If you’re having the same fights over and over again, no matter how many times you’ve tried to resolve things then it may be that you’ve hit the point where you just aren’t right for each other any more. Which sucks, but it does happen; couples do sometimes outgrow their relationships and nobody is truly at fault. It sucks, but it does happen. It doesn’t mean that your relationship failed; it just means that your relationship has come to its organic conclusion.

But it’s the little things you bring up that make me suspect that the real problem is that your girlfriend wants out. Bringing up how she doesn’t want to stay in a relationship where she’s too comfortable, worrying that if you don’t break up now, it’ll hurt worse in the future… those are usually hallmarks of someone trying to find causus beli to justify a break-up. Some people feel like they need a “good enough” reason to end things and go looking for something that they can point to that says “this is why I had to end it.” And as much as I hate to say it, it kind of sounds like something your girlfriend is doing.

As painful as it may be, if and when she brings up the topic again, it may be time to call the question. You may just need to say “Do you want to break up?” and see where things go from there.

I hope I’m wrong, CCL. Hopefully things’ll smooth out as you get past the turbulence in your personal life and feel less overwhelmed by college.

But it may be something to bring up if your girlfriend brings this up again.

Good luck.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE:  I am trying to find inner confidence that breaking up with my near 3 year relationship with my demisexual girlfriend. We have no sex life what so ever; maybe a bit of touching here and there but nothing major. I feel no commitment from her towards my family, and she has a view that we are going to be married in 4 years or less because that is when we finish college. I have lost many friends over her and lost my family’s trust more than once. I have committed to her and her family time and care and it feels like I can’t move forward with her. I have to call her all the time I can and if I do something wrong she will indirectly make me say sorry or feel bad. Any advice for me?

Time To Pull The Trigger?

DEAR TIME TO PULL THE TRIGGER: Occasionally I’ll get letters from folks who aren’t looking for advice; what they’re ACTUALLY looking for is permission to do what they’ve already decided. Sometimes it’s easier to ask a stranger to validate the choices you’ve already made than to just rip off that band-aid yourself.

Sounds to me like you know what needs to be done, TTPTT. All that’s left is just to do it. You sound pretty miserable and your relationship itself sounds like it’s gone toxic.

So the best thing you can do is do it quickly and cleanly. Just be firm: you’re breaking up with her, this relationship isn’t right for you and you don’t want to be in it any more. You don’t need to justify things or give any “reason” that’s “good enough” for a break-up. Wanting it to be over is the only reason you need. Phrasing it as anything other that “it’s over, I’m out” just means that it’s no longer a break-up, it’s the starting point of a negotiation. One that, unfortunately, won’t work out great for you.

So remember: It’s over, you’re not happy and you want out, goodbye, I wish you the best.

Good luck.

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