Love Fails Long-Distance Test
Q: After 10 years of a long distance relationship with the love of my life, my ability to trust him is shattered. I waited in vain for marriage, and this year he said it will never happen. He lives with a family member while I live thousands of miles away. His family is against me and jealous of my role in his life, knowing if he marries me he won't be there anymore. He tells me it's a better life there than with me, that I am too jealous and possessive.
How do I end this? I can't take it anymore and though I love him enough to wed him, I've become verbally abusive to him. I don't like who I've become around him anymore. He flirts with younger women without caring about how that impacts me. He has betrayed my trust on several occasions and I did it back to him, hoping this might manipulate him into not letting me go. I am unwilling to go forward without a vow, and this situation is not workable and tragic. It's a New Year and I want to be strong but don't know how to go. I don't think he will ever change and I feel stupid to the point of self-loathing if I stay. I love him very very much but can't stand another day apart, and I've been unable to sleep. - Maggie, 50
Dr. Susan: You ask how to end this long, unsatisfying relationship. What you really mean is how can you end it without causing yourself pain. But you can't expect this to be painless. The best action you can take is to tell him, once and for all, that it's over, and then stop ALL communication with him. Of course that will be very painful for you, but the pain will diminish over time. Otherwise the pain will go on and on for many more years. And you will find yourself betrayed again and again.
He isn't going to change. He has told you that in so many words. He's content where he is, doing what he's doing. Seeing you once in a while has been pleasant for him, but not so pleasant that he wants to change his life, live with you, take vows with you. In fact, you're the one who is changing, and for the worse. You're not stupid, you're simply not facing the truth. I highly recommend some counseling for you to help you during the transition and perhaps to discuss your sleeping difficulties with you.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.