Diane in Long Beach writes:
My girlfriend and I have been together for five years. We’ve had good times and bad times, with her giving in the relationship more than me, much of the time. She says she got to a point where she wanted to end the relationship about seven months ago. I knew she was interested in someone else, but didn’t know the extent of that relationship. We keep going back and forth. The confusing part to me is that she holds me at night, kisses me when I leave or she leaves, and sends me confusing messages. I’m torn as to whether I should give up or not. Help!
You are in a very tough position, and it really doesn’t look good. I want you to prepare for the worst, but that doesn’t mean you have to let go of all hope. You do, however, need to change your approach if you are going to try and turn this relationship around.
I see that you have a lot of guilt about how your relationship arrived at this juncture, but don’t let that guilt mixed with your love allow you to be the proverbial doormat.
Right now, your girlfriend has the best of all worlds. She has freedom, another woman, and you. Even though her feelings of emptiness and disrepect in your relationship brought her to this point, you don’t have to bear all the responsibility. The balance needs to be restored for this relationship to work. The next two months are critical. It is in this timeframe and course of events that your truest answers lie.
You aren’t the only one who is confused. She is, too. The two of you are very compatible and there still is a fairly strong love bond between you. It will take hard work and more than a little risk, but at this point, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Talk to your girlfriend. Tell her how it is – that you love her and you think this relationship is worth saving, but if she no longer loves you then things need to be worked out so that you can each go your separate ways.
She is going to need time to chew this over, and time to learn what life without you as a partner would really be like. It will be hard for you, but tough-love can be effective. Stop sharing the same bed. Don’t kiss her good-bye. Don’t report your whereabouts and plans to her – and don’t ask about hers. Change all of the routines the two of you have established.
When she asks you what your problem is, (and she will) tell her the truth. Tell her that her mixed signals aren’t helping you to let go of the relationship that you want to save – and she can’t have it both ways. When it becomes real to her, a lot of the love toward you that she has been repressing is going to stir once again. This is prime time for couples counseling. That is the key to saving this relationship. If you can get her past her ego and into therapy with you, this relationship can be healed. Without it, there will be some more back and forth moments, and eventually all will come to an end.