I’ve wanted to leave my live-in partner for a long time, but feel that I’d be abandoning someone who depends on me.
Not just for love, but all her confidence and self-esteem seems to hang on our relationship.
She’s been deeply hurt in the past, and was clear at the start that I mustn’t “toy” with her, she’s too vulnerable, so unless I’m committed, forget it.
I was committed, but I now find the constant responsibility for her moods, too much strain.
Burdened by Love
If you continue being her mental health caregiver, you’re accepting a co-dependency relationship. Since you already feel burdened, it’ll ultimately destroy the union, anyway.
But don’t suddenly leave her without supports.
Suggest that you go to counselling together, to examine how you two can create a healthier dynamic.
Her neediness will become apparent in the therapy process, as will your frustration and feeling of being overwhelmed by it.
If you do end up separating, she’ll have some professional help already in place.
If you still fear she’ll fall apart, contact her close family or friends to be available when the break-up occurs.
My mom and step-dad had a rough ten years and they needed to separate. I’m now realizing that my mom and the rest of the family expected me to also "divorce" him.
They get upset when I do father-daughter things with him, like meet for lunch, and most recently, driving lessons.
I’m in driving school but need more than the six hours with my instructor. I’ve repeatedly asked my mom over and over to allow me some practice time, but she refuses to help. Or, she’ll offer the keys near a main intersection, or highway, where I’ll feel uncomfortable. The rest of my family lives elsewhere.
My step-dad has offered his Sunday mornings to help me practice, but when my family found out, they made a big deal of it and assured that it didn't happen.
Should I go on and take help from whoever is willing to help me? The divorce was almost ten years ago now!
Dismayed in Denver
It’s never possible to fully know what went on in a couple’s divorce, even if you lived through it. Each partner usually experiences some level of deep disappointment, hurt, anger, financial and emotional difficulties, during the upheaval.
It undoubtedly affected you too, at the time. But it certainly affected your mom in a way you can’t, and shouldn’t, truly feel.
To your credit, you’ve made no judgment, so still have a sense of comfort with your stepfather.
But while you live with your mother, you need to not judge her either about her feelings about her ex-husband.
Ten years later, yes, but she still has some of those hurt feelings. There may also be factors between them that she doesn’t want to share, to protect you from things you don’t need to know.
Your desire to see this man doesn’t seem to have an emotional basis… just the convenience of getting him to help you practice driving. And perhaps, like other teenagers sometimes do, get back at your mom just to show her you can.
Meanwhile, she’s meeting her responsibilities to you - to house, clothe, feed, educate, and protect. (Maybe her car is one of her most expensive and needed possessions, and she’s afraid for you to “practice” on it).
Tell her you’ll back off seeing him and would really appreciate going with her to a safe driving area… and then having lunch together.
I'm 14 and met a guy several years older than me. We don't have any romantic feelings; he's like my best friend.
But I worried that rumors we were dating would ruin our friendship. When we're hanging with friends, he’d walk beside me, or sit with me on the bus.
But recently, when we met, he didn't talk to me and I felt him avoiding me somewhat. Yet when leaving, he patted my head and asked me to join him.
Why did he treat me differently?
Confused in Hong Kong
Please learn this while you’re young: Not every gesture or word from a friend, or even a boyfriend, has to be analyzed.
People have moods, things on their mind that have nothing to do with you. Reacting with concern makes you feel insecure.
It can weaken your self-esteem, as you bounce from one negative worry to another.
When something’s obviously “wrong,” you’ll know it.
Tip of the day:
When leaving a needy partner, limit the potential hurt/devastation with outside supports.