After an on-and-off relationship living apart for over a decade, my partner and I lived together for a few years, but have been split up again recently. Throughout it all, we have communicated online, on the phone, even when the other was involved in other relationships, and I consider him to be my best friend. We do see each other about once a week. He said he loves me but is not “in love” with me. He has had many women friends in his life. He never shared his passwords or checked emails when I was with him but I found out about three of them, sexual in nature, when I hacked into his computer during the first year we were living together. He was apologetic but was unwilling to share his passwords or have accountability after that betrayal. Although he said that it was over with them, it was hard to believe him with no proof. Pornography is and has been a big part of his life and I got involved with it through him and want to stop. I want intimacy and love … and I want it with him. I’m trying to move on, but I am having a very hard time. We’re both way past midlife, so you would think that this would be a no brainer, but I can’t seem to let go.
I wish I could sit down with you so we could talk face-to-face about your dilemma. Here’s how I imagine it would go if we had a chance to visit: I would look you directly in your tired and worried eyes and tell you that if you really want intimacy and love, you’re not going to find it with this guy.
First, you’re not married to him, you don’t have children together, and he’s not even acting like you’re a priority to him. You have had enough years with him to see if he really wants to have a real relationship with you. From what you’re sharing with me, it sounds like he wants pieces of you, but not all of you. It sounds like he prefers pseudo-relationships that give him some of the benefits without any real commitment or sacrifice on his part.
I wish I could give you more hope than that, but you’re asking a very sincere question that deserves a sincere answer. And, you want real connection, but the only way to get that is to find someone who also wants real connection.
I can’t tell you how you should begin the process of separating yourself from this guy. That will take more time than I can give you in this column. I can tell you, though, that it will be a painful loss for you, as you’ve really given him so much of yourself over the years.
He’s created a world that doesn’t allow you to have expectations. And, you staying with him all of these years consequence-free, despite multiple lies and betrayals, only perpetuates the dysfunction.
Even if you end the romantic attachment to him, he may still want to be friends. Please understand that he’s not been a friend to you. A true friend would never be so cruel.
You aren’t a victim, however. You don’t have to keep having your dignity as a human continually insulted by someone who has no interest in connecting with you in a real way. Free yourself up to form an intimate relationship with someone who will cherish you, fight for you, and sacrifice for you.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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