Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

3 Dec

Dear LetterBalm: I’m in my mid-40s, divorced with no children. I’ve been seeing a man for the past year. He’s getting a divorce and has three kids in their late teens and early 20s who still live with him. They do nothing to help around the house or get a job to contribute, which means he does all the work to support them. It also means he has little time for me and our relationship. To make things worse, the kids don’t treat me with respect and tell negative things about me to their dad. It’s caused some difficulties between us, and I’m lucky if I see my boyfriend every two weeks for a movie night. I really care about him, but this can’t go on. What can I say?

–Second Fiddle

Ms. L.B. advises that you think dispassionately about what you want from this relationship because you aren’t getting much. Before you say anything to your boyfriend, you must have a clear breakup course of action in your mind, and you must mean it. Don’t discuss this with family and friends. You might consider a few sessions with a therapist to identify why you find the need to hang on to something so unrewarding. Once you have figured out everything, cook a nice dinner for the two of you, speak your piece (without disparaging him or his kids), wish him well and see him to the door:

Gordon, here’s the thing: We’ve been seeing each other for a year, and we’re no closer to taking our relationship to the next level. I don’t think we ever will. You’ve got your hands full now going through a tough divorce and dealing with three grown kids at home who are a challenge for you. Your plate is so full now, that there is no room for me. So, I have decided it is time for us to move on. I think you’ll agree that we don’t need to discuss this. I’ll always wish you the best and hold you in my heart. This is a fond farewell in every sense of the word.

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