I think we've broken up…

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    I just want to get my thoughts down and hopefully get some perspective on this.

    I’ve been on vacation with my girlfriend for the last 2 weeks. A month before this she moved into my flat. We have been going out for over 3 years now. We’re both in our late 20’s.

    I have a 1 bed apartment and I didn’t really relish the prospect of her moving in. We work in the same city and used to see each other once or twice a week. That was good for me, but she was keen to live together having been together for 3 years now.

    I need a lot of time to myself. Im introverted and fairly solitary. I feel a lot of pressure when I am around other people and I liked having a space to retreat to. I have discussed all this with her. She knows who I am. Despite all this she was hoping I would be enthused about the prospect of her moving in with me and getting to spend more time together. I wasn’t all that enthused. My apartment is quite small and I thought it would be too tight for 2 people. More broadly than this though I suppose I didn’t want to spend more time together. I talked about my reservations. She was of course upset but I said we should try living together all the same as my feelings may change.

    She’s only lived me for one week so far, as a she went away for a month to travel. I joined her for the the last 2 weeks of this trip. During the week we lived together she wasn’t working. I didn’t like the prospect of coming home to her. I wasn’t sleeping well with her in the same bed which didn’t help my mood. I don’t know why I dreaded returning to her each night so much. I suppose to an extent I felt imposed upon. Perhaps I just wanted more solitude.

    To jump back in time a bit, I suppose for the last 6 months or so I have been having doubts about the relationship, but there hadn’t been anything dramatically wrong with things to prompt this. She’s a really lovely understanding person. We don’t really clash over anything and treat each other respectfully. Increasingly though I felt like I didn’t love her that much and couldn’t place why that was. I found her less attractive too and we were having sex a lot less.

    I found myself saying things I didn’t mean and not really talking about how I was feeling for hope that they would change. As far as she knew nothing was particularly wrong. I felt insincere saying that I loved her when I wasn’t sure if that was what I felt anymore. I couldn’t tell her she looked beautiful because I didn’t really feel that either. I was less affectionate than I used to be. I was more non committal. I felt an impending sense of dread that in time that I would need to discuss these feelings with her at some point.

    Sometimes i hoped that she would break up with me. I always felt uneasy, thinking that the relationship could breakdown at any point despite there being nothing too dramatically bad with things.

    A year into the relationship whilst travelling solo for 3 months I cheated on her with a girl I met in a club 2 weeks before I was due to come home. I was very drunk but I wanted to do it all the same. I had been gone for 3 months and had vague ideas about living abroad permanently, so I was considering splitting up.

    After the night where I cheated I decided to continue the relationship. I thought it could consign it to the recesses of my mind as some terrible drunken mistake which I would not repeat. I decided not to tell her at the time and did not think about it all that much.

    I have remained completely faithful since then. However, in the last year or so I have been pulverised by guilt over that deceit. I keep astonishing myself for that deception and my cowardice for not revealing this at the time. I feel I can’t be truly transparent with her, which is what I want. If my mind is consumed with guilt and she asks me what I’m thinking about I can’t share this with her.

    I don’t know if the intensity of this guilt is disproportionate as it was a one off event which I have no inclination of repeating. I thought I could bury it but it haunts me. But there’s this guilt coupled with the lack of interest I have in continuing with the relationship which I’ve felt for the last 6 months. I’m trying to establish whether the guilt I feel is the main driving force for making me want to leave the relationship or whether it’s a side feeling along side the sense of disinterest that I’ve been feeling the past 6 months.

    Anyway we’ve been on holiday these last 2 weeks and things haven’t been good. They weren’t good before I left. She was crying repeatedly during the first week we lived together. She said I seemed disinterested and resentful for her being there; that I was doing the bare minimum in terms of interaction. I couldn’t really dispute that. I was trying to hold it together but I couldn’t fake that I didn’t want to live with her.

    I was dreading our vacation together. I suspected we would have to address how we are feeling about things and I didn’t want to confront this. I have been running away from this for months. As the trip progressed I was consumed with the conviction that I needed to end the relationship. That I couldn’t continue to live with the guilt of my deceit and that my punishment would be the loss of the relationship. Another strand of thought was that that the happier times on the vacation were those when I was alone.

    I got quite down on the vacation. We barely had any set and I didn’t touch her or show much interest. It came to a head two nights ago. I initiated sex because I knew she was unhappy and feeling unloved. I didn’t want to do it. I felt a slight repulsion at the prospect. I tried to persist with it but couldn’t stay hard. I did the bare minimum in terms of foreplay. She admonished me for this, saying that I’ve just seemed completely disinterested in her and it’s clear I don’t find her attractive any more. I acknowledged these feelings were true, stating that id been trying to avoid that truth in the hope that my feelings would change.

    I said that I’d been thinking it would be best to end it. She said she didn’t want to, but said it was up to me to decide what I wanted. I said I think that breaking up is what I want.

    We’re scheduled to get the same flight back but we’ve spent the last 2 days apart. She told me where she was staying and told me to come and find her three if I still want to be together.

    Since our separation I’ve felt so internally conflicted. There is a fearful voice saying that I broke it up too soon, that she is a great person, that you’ll never meet anyone else who can understand you the way she did. A lot of low self esteem has surfaced. It’s really apparent how much I devalue myself. Another part of me admomishes myself for not owning up to the cheating that happened over 2 years ago. Another part of me is trying to psychologise myself; labelling me as avoiding and trying to identify some psychological defect which is driving me away from intimacy. Ive looked into my family history and the relationship with my parents. It’s like I’m looking for evidence of how this break up is not what I really want and that it’s some internal flaw which is driving me to do it.

    On the otherhand there is a strong conviction that getting back together would be the wrong thing to do. This voice doesn’t really justify that conviction though. There is a lot of fear running through me and a lot of self loathing. I have had that loathing for many years and it surfaces on and off. It insists that everything is my fault and that the future is fucked.

    I have one day until the flight back with her.

    If you have stuck with this, thanks so much for reading. I would be interested to read any replies received. Also I haven’t proof read this so sorry if it reads terribly.


    Dear ajack379:

    A key sentence for me in your post is: ” I feel a lot of pressure when I am around other people and I liked having a space to retreat to.”

    I ask myself: what is that “lot f pressure” in that sentence. I think the answer is in another sentence: ” There is a lot of fear running through me and a lot of self loathing.”

    I think the reason the one time cheating of long ago resurfaced during this time is because your self loathing focused on a reason to loath yourself. In other words, as a result of the prospect of living with her months before, and then finally living with her, your self loathing increased.

    And I ask myself, why is your self loathing increased at the prospect and later, the reality of living with her? I don’t know.

    It seems to me that the trouble is that fear and self loathing you mentioned and her living with you increased these. Of course, you were not interested in increased fear and increased self loathing, so you did your best to prevent that, by no longer finding her attractive, no longer feeling affection… by not interacting much once she was in your home.

    If you think I have a point, that it is probably not about her but about you not wanting MORE fear and self loathing, then I would tell her that, and I would attend psychotherapy with a competent therapist to examine that fear and self loathing. Then proceed from there. There is hope for the relationship.

    Would you like to share more about that pressure you feel when around other people? Is it indeed that fear and self loathing you mentioned later?



    Hi Anita
    Thanks for the response. Yes the self loathing and social anxiety is what I fear when I’m around others. This is what drives me to seek solitude.

    I believe this stems from bullying in school and my parents. My mum is anxiety ridden and not very relational. She deals only with the practicalities. For her life is a series of endless dangers. The implicit message I got was that life was not a series of possibilities, but a series of potenrial pitfalls to be navigated. My dad has never talked about any feelings or anything of an emotional nature with me. We talk about sports and practicalities. Honestly, I’ve never felt close to either of them. I suppose this is a pattern I’m repeating by opting out of intimacy.

    I have attended therapy in the past and have explored in depth this self loathing. It has been present from my late teens until now, and has pushed me into very low moods many times. I have been able to manage it better these past few years, but perhaps this is as a result of finding solitude to be a good remedy.

    I never thought of the admonishing myself for cheating as an extension of this self loathing but this is a good insight. Internally I have punished myself for so long for it. Perhaps longer than the act itself warrants.

    I hear what you’re saying and it does ring true. Do you believe then this impulse to protect myself from increased fear and self loathing, by leaving the relationship is an act of self deception? That the only thing it serves is protecting myself more. Can the impulse to a voice fear and self loathing really drive me to feel that someone isnt attractive any more?


    Hi ajack379,

    I’m the same way. I need space. I jokingly say that I can live with anyone if I have 1,000 square feet around me. If not that, I need my own room.

    Your GF knew this about you, and she STILL insisted that you move in together because of our culture’s nutty time schedule. Is moving in together a form of pre-engagement? Like the Promise Rings of old? I don’t know. But even when I was in my twenties I knew it was a bad idea.

    Rule One: Never move in together. If you get married, there’s something about it energetically that makes sharing the same space easier to deal with. Just trust me on this.

    OF COURSE you can’t easily break up with her when she’s living in your apartment. And NO ONE wants to break up while on vacation. And then the crying, the “Is something wrong?” I couldn’t stand it either!

    The cheating: Don’t tell her. It may relieve your guilt, but it will cause her more pain. View the dalliance (it’s only an affair if you’re married, IMO) as a sign that you really weren’t happy.




    Hi ajack379

    I can feel your pain. I’ve gone through a similar process recently where I was in a relationship that forced me to confront my shadow sides (feeling unloved, thinking I’m not good enough, not lovable, etc). A lot of these beliefs came from my childhood. But at some point these beliefs sabotage us, and it looks like that’s exactly where you are right now.
    That’s good. Your intuition is telling you (and has told you for a long time) that these old beliefs are not yours, but somebody elses. You are not broken because of them. I believe we have to deal with these issues because they are life lessons that will make us stronger once we have faced these fears, and then let them go, realizing they no longer control us.
    Your girlfriend sounds like a caring, compassionate person. I do understand that she wants to spend more time with you. She loves you, that’s why. But maybe you need more time to deal with your fears. Maybe you could suggest to her that

    a) You don’t want her to move in just yet because you need to deal with your fears
    b) You will give yourself 6 months, maybe a year, to deal with these issues, and, if you’re still together, tell her you want her to move in with you then
    c) Tell her you love her, and you want her to help you and support you with this.

    From personal experience I can tell you that facing those fears is the only way to move on. They are not you, they are not who you are, so don’t identify with them. They are just energies, and you have the capability and strength to face them and see the lessons they are trying to teach you.

    All the best on your path.



    Dear ajack379:

    You asked: ” Can the impulse to a voice fear and self loathing really drive me to feel that someone isnt attractive any more?”

    Yes, I did it, my mind did it without my knowing. So from personal experience, it is possible and it makes sense: when a person becomes a threat (the threat = experiencing increased distress), then an association (a neuropathway) in the brain is made between that person and distress and that pathway overrides previous attraction.

    The first question in your last post was: “Do you believe then this impulse to protect myself from increased fear and self loathing, by leaving the relationship is an act of self deception? That the only thing it serves is protecting myself more.”

    I think that the impulse to end the relationship with her is based on your previous-to her experience you had with your mother, father, bullies in school, etc. From your sharing there is no evidence of a real threat being posed by her. Seems like she triggered, by her being a person only, past threats with other people. Deception is a strong word, more like “inaccurate projection as I see it.

    And yes, the purpose is to protect yourself. Of course.

    — I am thinking you developed the belief, at a young age (as children do), that you were the cause of your mother’s distress, that you caused her distress that in turn distressed you. And you may believe that once in close proximity, you will again cause your girlfriend to become distressed and in turn distress you…?



    Hi all. Thanks for the replies

    : thanks for your perspective. where do you think your need for solitude emerged from? And how do you balance that with maintaining romantic relationships?

    : please can you advise how you went about dealing with your fears and the negative perceptions you have of yourself ? Was that through therapy or through a different approach?

    Also can I get your perspective on the one of cheating? It’s still haunting me after 2 years. Do you think this is a self sabotage of sorts?

    : thanks for getting back about my questions.

    The thing I find hard is that without a guide I’m at the mercy of my thoughts. It’s hard to know which to trust. When the loudest voices are those that make a convincing case for ending the relationship on the basis that I don’t feel strongly enough about her, these are the ones that I pay heed to. My thoughts are always about how to protect myself and serve myself with little emphasis on making connections with others. I suppose I’m still carrying the wounds from childhood right there.

    I suppose sitting here right now I have little impulse to get back together with my girlfriend.


    Hi again ajack379!

    I think I was born with it, TBH. I have no problems, however, going out, being in relation with other people, and being social. Even if I have an hour to myself, by myself, that’s all I need.

    When I was single I loved having my own apartment. Having my DH (then BF) live with me would have killed the romance I think.

    When we got married we moved into a house. I could be upstairs reading but still hang out with him downstairs later, for instance. You need to have a balance of separation and togetherness.


    Dear ajack379:

    If I was you, believing my own interpretation of your situation (as I expressed so far), I probably would not get back together with her, actually, I know that I will not. This is because like any living-thing, any organism, I avoid pain, turn away from it. I too will chose calm over distress. And you don’t have an obligation to her to experience distress. Your obligation to her is to be honest about your feelings and needs and her obligation to you is to respect those.

    What I am suggesting is that if you do want in the future to live with another person, if that is your desire, then do attend psychotherapy again; or if you want otherwise to heal from the anxiety and self loathing you mentioned, additional therapy with a competent, hard working professional will help.



    @ inky
    Thanks for the response. It sounds like you found the balance that you need.


    Have you improved your relationship with yourself over time? How did therapy aid this?


    Dear ajack379:

    I have and am improving my relationship with myself- am engaged in the process presently. Only ten minutes, while having a late breakfast, I have made some progress.

    My first experience with a competent, empathetic, trustworthy, hard working therapist started March 2011 and lasted two years and a few months. I continued my therapy without my therapist when I relocated to a different state. What made the therapy effective for me in regard to my self-rejection/ heavy duty, abusive self criticism is the number one skill introduced to me by my then therapist and that is Mindfulness: the ability to pay attention to what is going on in my brain (and rest of body). And I don’t mean paying attention to my thoughts alone, that wondering- mind as it is called, being caught in thoughts.

    What I mean by mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to thoughts and emotions and how the two affect each other in the moment-to-moment experience of living.

    Without this ability I wouldn’t have been able to make the progress I am still making. It is a skill that takes a long time to build, for someone like me, anyway who has been as dissociated and .. strictly-cerebral as I used to be.

    I had such great difficulty being around people because I was afraid of them attacking me, like my mother used to. I observed myself through their eyes (projected myself or better say, I projected my harshly critical mother into those people) and everything I did or didn’t do, an expression on my face, anything was an alert for me: am I going to be attacked for this or that. And I got angry at the person or people, as if he or she was already attacking me.

    When alone, I got away from all my imagined wrong doings. Ah… the freedom (from attack), the security- precious.

    These very days, I notice my distress (fear and anger) the moment it happens – this is Mindfulness. Then I correct my thinking from the automatic (no words really, anymore): he is looking at me doing X wrong and will be attacking me momentarily, to: he is not even looking at me. He is a safe person for me. He will not attack me because I know him well and he is invested in my well being.

    Let me know if you want me to write any more; will be glad to share if it can be of any help to you.



    Hi ajack379

    Regarding the cheating, I do believe you were trying to sabotage the relationship out of fear of intimacy. Maybe that way you felt you were in control (as in possibly ending it on your terms). My concern is that you might do this again if you feel threatened. So unless you have seen the lesson in that fear it could happen again at any time. I would like to say again that this does NOT make you a broken or bad person. I have come to realize that these deep seated fears are very powerful, UNTIL we challenge them. Once we see them for what they are, they have no more power over us.

    The way I deal with my fears is that first they surface into my consciousness at some point. When that happens, or when I am in a situation that triggers the fear, I set my intention to determine what is underneath that fear. I’ll wait until I get home. Then I sit down, and relax, taking deep breaths, until I feel calm. Then I think back to the exact situation that caused the fear, and I can feel it rise in my body somewhere (maybe my heart, maybe my gut). Then I imagine myself in a bubble of Light, knowing that nothing can harm me. I then imagine looking at the fear, and I ask why? What are you trying to tell me? I then listen for an answer, and then something pops into my mind. That is the next layer. Then I ask again why? I wait for the next thing to pop into my mind. And I keep on doing this until I feel that the last answer I got is the one that is the core issue. You just get a feeling that you’ve dug down to the bottom of it.
    This process requires you to be very honest and vulnerable to and with yourself. I can say, without any feeling of shame, that I have often cried while doing this. That’s perfectly okay. So is feeling sad, shouting, feeling angry, etc. Just work through the emotions, because they are telling you how you really feel about something. Often the core feeling is being ashamed of something we did or let others do to ourselves. Shame is an illusion. Often we could not help what happened to us. Be kind to yourself, and just go through the process. You deserve to know the truth. You deserve to be happy and loved. We all do. But the important thing is that you set the intent to find the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. I can guarantee you that you will feel free and liberated once you have seen the truth about a certain fear or situation.
    And then you’ll be ready for the next layer. It never ends, but we get stronger and closer to the truth with every layer we peel off.

    Hope this helps. There’s also so much information on the web about this process. It’s not the only process. It works for me. Something else might be better suited for you. But set your intention to find the truth, and then let Life lead you to the tools and solutions you need. Remember, Life always wants to help us, not hurt us.

    Hope that helps


    Hi anita
    I really relate to what you outlined there, particularly around the fear of attack or disapproval from others. It sounds like you’ve found approaches that really work for you.

    May I ask how long you have been struggling with those self critical thoughts? Are they less prevalent for you these days or do they come at the same frequency but are less impactful now?



    Hi gunter,
    Thanks for writing back about your process. I have done similar internal work in the past but I often find I don’t come to any deeper truths. The feelings are often fear of judgement from others. That I’ll be disapproved of and left alone and therefore this will confirm my unworthiness. I struggle to go deeper than this sometimes.

    I know in an earlier post you said a recent relationship has led you to confront these shadow energies of unworthiness. How is that going for you at the moment? I hope you’re doing well.



    Dear ajax379:

    You asked:
    1. how long you have been struggling with those self critical thoughts? at least 45 years(I am 55).

    2. Are they less prevalent for you these days or do they come at the same frequency but are less impactful now? Less prevalent. Over the years I was very dissociated, that is spaced out, not present, daydreaming, confused, etc. For a while now I am … well, re-associated, present, no longer daydreaming, and am clear. I am way less tired. More awake. And feel the fear when I imagine that I am about to be attacked, the heart racing, the light headedness. Still do.


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