K. in Chicago writes:
I feel as though I want to break up with my boyfriend of 8-1/2years. He’s changed, I’ve changed. I’m so confused. I’m depressed. I see us in the future all the time though – with kids, living happily ever after. But I find myself wanting to break things off and find someone else, without his habits, without his attitude, without his anger. We’ve been together for so long and it’s like we’re married. We gave each other expensive rings to show our love. But I’m not really sure if I love him any more. What is your advice?
Love is a fragile, and often, a very subjective emotion. As we grow and change as people, the way we give and receive, love can change as well. While I don’t view your relationship as being a loveless one, I do see that the love that once burned so brightly is suffering from complacency.
You can see yourself in the future with this man, with the kids, doing the “happily ever after,” because it is an obtainable future. This is the vision you have had and held onto for years. You can fight to climb out of your pit of depression and bring this relationship to a new level, or you can walk away and start a new life. Each choice comes with its own set of challenges and risks.
If you continue on your current path, you will choose freedom. It’s easier. While time changes everything, time spent without effort to create change only advances the current situation.
You have the choice and the opportunity to breathe new life into this relationship. With counseling, you and your boyfriend cannot only recreate the passion and magic that each of you has let fade, but each of you will also benefit on a more personal level.
When you were happy with yourself and this relationship, his habits weren’t so annoying. When he was happy, his anger wasn’t so close to the surface and the way he dealt with it was much better than what it is now.
You have a solid foundation to build on if you have the willingness to try. Talk to him. Tell him how you are really feeling. It is going to be a difficult and explosive conversation, but his reaction to this is no worse than it would be if you told him you were leaving.
You have basically one shot to save this relationship, get back all that has been lost. Every day, you have the opportunity to leave and start over on your own. Either choice leaves you working through depression and your own issues to get back to a place of happiness. Have the last 8 and a half years of your life really been such a waste of time?