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Long-Term Relationship Trouble

I have been with my partner for over 5 years and we live together in a different city away from our families due to uni. I am looking for advice from anyone who may have been in a similar experience.

 

I know that the 'honeymoon' phase doesn't last and all relationships have their ups and downs, but for the past 4-5 months I just feel like something isn't right in the relationship. The easiest way to put it is I feel like I've fallen out of love. I have talked to my partner about my feelings and we are very open about these things. I feel happier when I am on my own or with my friends and I feel guilty for feeling this way after being together for so long. I can't help but feel like like I've failed the relationship because I no longer feel the same way. But at the same time I am terrified of ending the relationship as it's all I've ever known. I have relied and depended on this person for so long I'm so worried about how I will cope on my own. But at the same time I feel as though right now in my life it is important for me to rediscover who I am on my own and regain my independence (I am 21). 

 

Does this sound crazy?! 

 

I am just wondering if anyone may have gone through something similar and could give me advice? How did you cope after ending a long-term relationship? Did you regret it? How do you know if you are making the right decision? He is an amazing guy and the thought of hurting him breaks my heart, but at the same time I feel as though it is selfish of me to continue the relationship when I am this unhappy.  

 

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

 

Re: Long-Term Relationship Trouble

Hi @lr8991! That sounds like a tricky situation. Smiley Sad I want to preface this by saying that I personally haven't been in a similar situation, but I did a lot of research on human relationships in university, so I might be able to help in some way.

First of all, I remember reading some statistic saying that most relationships last less than twelve months. Additionally, I remember some other research suggesting that the 'honeymoon period' or limerence lasts about 18 months. Relationships can fizzle out for any reason and sometimes it is easier to be out of one than in one, but you and your partner seem to have given the relationship a decent shot and it has lasted longer than most. So, I don't think it is a 'failure' (not that I consider any relationship a failure) or that you have failed the relationship if you end up deciding to break up with him.

People change, grow and mature all the time, so the partner you had five years ago may not be the partner for you right now. I have found this with people in my own life. I have never regretted any of these people leaving my life, but that's just me. When the negatives of being in the relationship start to outweigh the positives and you find yourself becoming interested in other people, ending the relationship may start looking like a good decision.

It's great that you have talked to your partner about this. What are his feelings about it? Has he indicated what he wants to do?
Perhaps he has picked up on some signs that you're unhappy.
It's good that you still care about him and want to take his feelings into account. Smiley Happy Do you think he would be open to being friends if you do break up with him? Or would severing all ties with him help you to cope better? I think whichever is more helpful depends on the kind of relationship and people involved.

It can be difficult to adjust to being on your own after being with someone for so long. Smiley Sad
Something that might help when coping with a relationship breakup is having a good support network who can meet your needs. The supports don't have to necessarily include another partner, although contrary to popular belief, rebound relationships aren't necessarily bad, can be helpful for some people and don't usually have a higher rate of fizzling out than other types of relationships.
Focusing on the positives of being out of the relationship can also help. Many people have experienced personal growth after a breakup, so wanting to explore your identity could be a great thing and keep you motivated. When I get angry about losing someone (not necessarily a partner), I try to remember the reasons why our relationship ended.
Some people also find writing and journalling helpful.

Here is an app that might be able to provide some other coping strategies. There is also a helpful article on ReachOut with additional suggestions. Relationships Australia also has a lot of good advice on their website about coping with a breakup, such as this article.

Re: Long-Term Relationship Trouble

Hey @lr8991 

 

It's really brave of you to be so honest with yourself and your partner about how you feel. It can be so scary when you become aware of a strong feeling that asks us to reconsider whats happening in our life. It is also an amazing time for you to grow as a person and learn more about who you are Heart 

 

I feel like @WheresMySquishy has made some hugely relevant insights here. I wanted to second a few things... 

 

A relationship ending does not mean you have failed. In fact it can literally mean the opposite! If you have made beautiful memories, shared a genuine connection with someone and learnt more about yourself - that is a win. 

 

The other thing to second is to ensure you have a strong support network if you decide to end the relationship. Reconnect with old friends, catch up with your favourite people, meet new people -  and if you can support yourself by doing things that make you happy. (break ups are a great time to do start that hobby you've been meaning to do/get back into something you used to love doing)  

 

I can sense from this post that you have the tools to manage this experience, however challenging it may be. We are of course here to listen to you and support you as you go through it Heart 

Re: Long-Term Relationship Trouble

@WheresMySquishy @Bre-RO  thank you both I really appreciate your support and wisdom.

 

I am very grateful in that I do have a great support network. I have an incredibly supportive family, even though they live in a different city a few hours away I know that if I needed them they would get on a plane and come visit me and they always welcome me home. 

I also have made some incredible friends in the city that I live in who I am grateful for. If anything it is nice to know I have amazing people that care about me and if me and my parter were to break up I know they would be supportive and do everything they can to help. 

I think the biggest thing for me to come to terms with is that I will be hurting my partner. 

@WheresMySquishy  when I talked to my partner about my feelings he was shocked and said he only ever wants to be with me and doesn't want to break up. So if we were to break up it would not be mutual and I'm worried how that may affect his mental health as well. I do appreciate your resources they look very helpful and is nice to know I'm not alone.

 

I think my biggest issue is that I know I could cope through the break up, it would be hard but I could do it and I think it would be good for me. The hard part is I don't want to hurt my partner and I'm worried how he will cope after. As we live together we would both have to find somewhere new to live (which can be expensive and we are both uni students). We both live away from home for uni so we can't just move back in with our families. 

 

I also want to say how grateful I am for ReachOut right now.. I have always offered my advice and support on this website and it is very comforting knowing I have this website as a support network when I am need of it Heart

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Re: Long-Term Relationship Trouble

Hey @lr8991 

 

I'm so so glad to hear that you have such supportive family and friends Heart Those relationships will carry you through any difficulty that arises with the situation you're in. 

 

Coming to terms with hurting someone you care about is really tough. I've struggled with this before and what helped me was realising that even though being broken up with hurts, it's also a part of life that most people will experience at least once. It doesn't feel nice but it's an opportunity for growth and reflection. As much as we want to protect those we love from pain all we can do is try to approach the situation with as much gentleness and care as possible. Your happiness is just as important as his and you're entitled to do what you need to be happy. Heart 

Re: Long-Term Relationship Trouble

That situation is pretty tough @lr8991. Smiley Sad Breaking up is never easy but it's complicated when the other person feels 'blindsided'. It's possible that he might feel some grief over the loss of the relationship.
If you're concerned about hurting him, you could explain that it's not his fault, the qualities that you like about him and that you still care about him.
If your relationship with him was good otherwise and was not characterised by any major betrayals or anything like that, do you think it would be possible to help each other adjust to the breakup? You might be able to support him as long as it doesn't negatively affect your mental health.