DEAR NATALIE: I have been trying to break up with this guy for weeks. Every time I go to tell him that I am unhappy in our relationship--mostly because he is cranky, critical and depressing to be around--something seems to get in the way. For example, I tried breaking up with him a few weeks ago, but his dog had to be put down. He was a wreck. I felt bad, so I didn’t want to make anything worse. Then, I tried a few days ago, but his best friend tested positive for COVID-19, and he was upset about that. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just find a good time to end it? I need advice! —CAN’T WALK AWAY
DEAR CAN’T WALK AWAY: There is never a “good” time to end a relationship. Relationships are messy and as complicated as the people in them. The longer you put this off, the worse it is going to be for everyone involved. You just need to tell him exactly how you feel. Rip it off like a Band-aid. It may sound harsh, but you aren’t being kind by delaying the inevitable and giving him a false sense of security in the relationship. But, if you find yourself hesitating time and time again, ask yourself why? Do you have a hard time with confrontation? Do you have mixed feelings about breaking things off? What is your reasoning for holding onto this person that you clearly don’t like? Sometimes we stay in situations that are unhealthy because we think it is all we deserve. Sometimes we stay because it’s easier than leaving and starting over. Sometimes we stay because it will be a struggle financially or otherwise. Whatever your reason, examine it. Sit with it. And when you are ready, come to a decision and follow through. You are in charge of your life, so put yourself back in the driver’s seat.
DEAR NATALIE: Monogamy is really hard for me. I have been married for years and have been cheating the whole time. She doesn’t have a clue and the guilt gets worse and worse as every year goes by. I love her and don’t want to leave her or our children, but I don’t know what else to do. Should I just continue living a lie? —GUILTY
DEAR GUILTY: I don’t understand what it means when you say, “Monogamy is really hard for me.” Assuming she didn’t blackmail you into this marriage, it was your choice to be with her, to stand in front of people, to take those vows. If you weren’t feeling that, why did you do it? Now you are in quite the predicament. Even if you stopped cheating on her and never did it again, could you live with the guilt of your past choices? If you don’t stop cheating, what does that say about how you feel about yourself or your marriage? Monogamy is great if both people want it. But it isn’t fair to your partner that you are lying to her. What if you brought home an STD? What if you were to get someone else pregnant? Then what will you do? Our actions have consequences. I recommend that you seek counseling for yourself to understand your behavior and to come up with a plan. I don’t know the intricacies of your relationship, so I don’t think it is as simple as, “Tell her the truth tonight!” That could actually cause more harm. Just because you want to get this off your chest because you feel badly about it, doesn’t mean that’s the best thing to do. It’s still a selfish approach. Stop cheating, get into therapy and work on a plan from that point. Anything less is just lip service.
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