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I don't know what to do with myself right now

So... a few days ago I broke up with my girlfriend of four years. I'm gonna call him S in this post. It wasn't over a fight or anything, just that he's a lesbian I'm, well, not settled on any labels but something closer to a gay man. When we broke up we decided to stay friends. A pain point of ours boiled over today though, and what I said really hurt him. I feel guilty and ashamed for that, especially because I crossed a line that he'd already drawn out for me not to cross and I should know better by now.

Take away makes up a decent portion of his diet. This started to become a pain point for us for a couple of reasons. One is that I'd cook for him every day, but a lot of the time he'd reject my food in favour of take away. Earlier on he'd cite something to do with an ingredient or a texture and so I took note of his preferences and tried to only cook what he likes, but instead of getting him to eat my food more often he'd just say it wasn't what he felt like eating in the moment. I don't understand it. The way food was treated by my family growing up was that take away is a treat for every now and then, and if someone cooks for you and you're willing to eat it then you should, and you should make sure the person who cooked it feels appreciated for it. It's how we reciprocated the care that went into it. So cooking something (something I know is good! my family, my housemates, everyone else I cook for always heaps praise on me for my cooking and comes back for seconds) and having it rejected in favour of something else just makes me feel like I've wasted all the time, the effort and the care I put into it. I told S how I feel a few times and we've never really had a helpful conversation about this. I asked him a couple of times to tell me outright when he's not going to eat something I made for him, so I can try to make sure it ends up in someone's stomach instead of the bin. A couple of times since then I've asked him if he's going to eat something and he's told me probably not, but that's all that's come of it. Also when he does eat something I cooked for him he says "thank you" afterwards, which I appreciate. But I mean not to be my own killjoy here but I sometimes find it difficult to believe that he's thanking me for any reason other than the fact I asked him to, which makes it feel ingenuine. Man I've rambled about this for a while...

Anyway, the other reason the take away caused tension for us is that when we were dating we shared a fair bit of responsibility for each others' finances and I was upset that he was spending so much money on food. Especially since he could pretty much always have something I'd made for no extra cost than what we'd already spent on groceries. Now, we... haven't really declared so out loud but I'm pretty sure we're moving towards handling our finances independently of each other, so I'm not worrying so much about how much he's spending on take away.

So cut to today, S was eating the food he ordered for lunch and one of my housemates asked him how much it cost, $40. She remarked to me a little later that it was a lot, and I echoed that I couldn't imagine myself spending that much on a single meal. She started talking about someone she knows who pretty much only eats take away, as do their kids and we talked for a little bit about how neither of us understood the logic behind it. After a little while S, who'd been in the room for all of this huffed, set his food down and left the room, slamming the door on his way out. My housemate and I realized how we must have sounded to him, and admitted to each other that we both felt guilty and shouldn't have had that conversation in that place and time.

I honestly really should have known better and refused to have that conversation with my housemate. It was obvious to me from early in the conversation that S would take it as a comment on his own eating habits, and there's been a couple of other instances recently where I've said something that he interpreted to be passive aggression towards him. That and just... the fact that it's so close to a pain point between us. He sent me a text after leaving the room saying he doesn't want to be friends anymore and I told him it was fair enough for him to say that.

I want to move out but I feel tethered here. He's disabled and I've been who he relies on for a lot of things for the past couple of years. He doesn't have a good relationship to anyone in his family, doesn't consider many people his friends, and his condition isn't well understood in the medical field which has so far rendered him unable to access most disability services like the NDIS. I think that being around each other every day isn't such a good thing for S and I right now and I want to move out, but I feel like I'd be pulling the rug out from underneath him. That and when I start to tell him this part of what I want he says it feels like I detest him and want to get as far away from him as possible, and I keep backpedalling to tell him that's not the case. I don't doubt he genuinely feels that way either, a couple of times lately I've gone for a walk and he's called me asking where I've gone, and he's convinced himself that I wasn't coming home. Like I told him where I was going and for how long before going out and then that happened. I ended up telling him just straight up "don't do that" because I told him that it made it hard for me to enjoy being out and have any space for myself and then asked him not to, and he just shrugged his shoulders saying how else is he supposed to know know I'm not up-and-leaving?

I've told him that I'm not comfortable with being such a large portion of his support network and it would be a good thing for him as well to expand to that, but again the only place those conversations have gone is the fear that I'm going to leave him entirely and forever. A friend who I talked to about this suggested that if I let him know that I'm not going to offer him as much support in the future as I am now the need to fill that support void might give him the push he needs to connect with his friends, maybe see a therapist. etc. And it makes sense, but it feels a little cruel to me. I've never been too good at tough love.

I've got a plan in my head right now to move back in with my parents for the moment, and visit S a couple of times per week to help him with stuff that his disability gets in the way of. I mean, if he's even okay with that. I'm worried that if I go he'll reject that offer of support, and then I don't know who if anyone is supporting him. Maybe that's just a risk I have to take - tough love, letting him find his own way and all. It's also definitely something I have to tell him about in advance and I don't know how to approach him about that at the moment. It's hard because I don't know if I can say it as his friend, and that conversation's gonna double in difficulty if it turns into a conversation about whether or not I'm abandoning him for good.

I... I know this is a lot. I don't know what to expect out of posting this other than having my thoughts written down, I certainly don't know what to do with it so I'd completely understand someone else looking at this and thinking the same. Anyway, better hit send before this turns from an essay to a thesis ^^;


Re: I don't know what to do with myself right now

Hi @squiggly, thank you for sharing! It sounds like things really boiled over in the last few days in regards to finances, takeaway and overall tension. Sharing finances can create that kind of issue where purchases are scrutinised which can create arguments because everyone has a different perspective. For some situations, it can help to have either independent finances or shared accounts for bills etc. It must have been really hard for you to feel unappreciated and rejected when you went to so much effort to make meals. I can see why that would be making you feel quite upset. It also seems like some of these issues were really sensitive for your friend to talk about. It might just seem like takeaway but there may be some other things going on underneath the surface contributing to this kind of thing. Nonetheless, it sounds like all of things made a really difficult environment for you both to be in. It sounds really challenging to be in this type of position.

It seems like you have already made a plan to move but that you are feeling a bit unsure about it.. is that right? You have a right to move out, especially if it is having a negative impact on you. The situation sounds a bit complicated given your friend is needing some type of support. Is the other person they live with able to offer this support? If not, as you mentioned, it might help to let your friend know in advance that you will be moving out. This way they have some time to organise alternative support. Plus you mentioned that you are able to visit him to provide some support which is really kind of you to offer that. Unfortunately you can't control whether he accepts that help or not. This situation is unfortunate and complicated but sometimes you need to do what is best for yourself Heart

Re: I don't know what to do with myself right now

Hi, it's been a little while since I posted this so I figured I'd give an update! Thank you for your kind response @Taylor-RO, reading that helped me to push through this.

I've flagged what I plan to do with S and although he doesn't feel great about it, he seems to understand that this is what I want to do and why. We've been planning for how I'm going to support him after I move out and it's going good! He's been talking to people he wants to be friend with as well lately and I'm proud of him for that.


Re: I don't know what to do with myself right now

Hi @squiggly, thank you so much for the update! I am glad you found my post helpful. It must have been so difficult to stand your ground in this situation as you were feeling so unsure before. It sounds as though your friend has been respectful although it is an upsetting situation for them. How are you feeling about everything now that you have got a plan in place? If you don't mind me asking, how far away is the move? Smiley Happy