My seven-year relationship doesn't seem to be working anymore. I think there have always been problems, but since I started going out more, things have got worse. I keep thinking the grass is greener on the other side, when maybe it isn't? My boyfriend is lovely and we get on well, but we've always stayed in a lot. Part of the reason for that was I didn't want to be tempted if I met someone else. He doesn't seem interested in my friends, what I say, or what I'm doing, and we don't have a lot to talk about anymore. Over the past six months we've split up twice and we're about to split for a third time. When we break up I feel I'm doing the right thing, but then I worry about him and miss him so much that I end up wanting him back. Recently, I've started seeing someone else and my boyfriend has become completely paranoid. I feel so depressed and the hardest thing is that I know we both still love each other.
It sounds like you’re very unhappy in your relationship but you’re scared of leaving and afraid that you’ll make the wrong decision. This is perfectly natural. Seven years is a long time to be with someone. You probably can’t even remember what your life was like before you met your boyfriend. People can become habits too, but like most habits, that doesn’t mean they’re good for us. Love can sometimes be destructive as well as constructive.
Over time, people grow and change. Good relationships survive because partners grow together or somehow manage to accommodate each other’s changes. Perhaps when you met your boyfriend you were a perfect match but, for whatever reason, you’re no longer making each other happy. It’s nobody’s fault, but you haven’t developed together. From what you say, you don’t go anywhere, don’t mix with your friends and don’t even have anything to talk about. Even after seven years, you should still be able to have stimulating conversation. But if you don’t do anything together, it isn’t that surprising that you don’t. It sounds like you might be stuck in a rut.
You say you love your boyfriend, but you are now cheating on him, which is not unusual given how unhappy you’re feeling. You may need to get out of the relationship to feel good about yourself and to go out and do new things. If you can’t get this from your boyfriend it’s likely that you’ll look for it elsewhere. It may be that he’s picking up on unconscious signals from you that things aren’t going well, which could be why he’s becoming paranoid. Maybe he’s unhappy as well, but he doesn’t have the strength or desire to confront this. Perhaps you’re the one who has to make this difficult decision.
Of course, leaving is scary. It’s completely normal to be scared of the unknown. No one can tell you that everything will be alright if you leave and that you’ll meet someone else and be happy. It’s impossible to predict the future. But one thing that’s certain is that you’ll be free to be yourself, to see your friends, pursue your interests, go out and have fun. And there’s every chance that in the near future you’ll meet someone else, someone who is right for you.
Alternatively you might want to try relationship counselling. This could help the two of you to work out the problems in your relationship and re-capture what you used to have. However, if you feel like that’s not what you want anymore, then counselling could still help you both to readjust to a life apart. Relate is the UK’s premier relationship counselling service, to find out more from them call 0300 100 1234.
If you leave your boyfriend it will be painful for both of you, but staying may be just as painful too. Whatever you decide make sure it’s the right decision for you, even if it’s difficult. Sometimes being happy means taking a risk.
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