I keep trying to break up with my boyfriend but he won’t let me

Ask Roe: ‘Since nothing has gone wrong he doesn’t understand why I’d want to end it’

Leaving itself will be a huge step for you. Leaving will be a sign that you trust yourself, respect yourself, that you are not interested in self-sacrifice to the point of self-annihilation. Photograph: iStock

Leaving itself will be a huge step for you. Leaving will be a sign that you trust yourself, respect yourself, that you are not interested in self-sacrifice to the point of self-annihilation. Photograph: iStock

Dear Roe,
I have been with my boyfriend for about a year, and I want to end things. I no longer feel that I wish to be in a relationship, despite the fact that he is a wonderful man. I’ve already tried to end things twice, and each time it has made me feel so guilty seeing him so upset that I’ve felt that I have to try again. I hate seeing him so distraught – especially when it will be me who the break-up serves and not him. I don’t want to cause him even more pain, but I don’t want to be in a relationship with him, or anyone at the moment, but he doesn’t seem to get my reasoning. Since nothing has gone wrong he doesn’t understand why I’d want to end it, but I’m not happy, and I don’t feel that we’re a good match. I don’t know how to say that to him without hurting him even more.

Here’s the problem I see in your letter: you don’t trust yourself. You’re not convinced that you have a right to want something different, something more, something other than this. You appear to believe that leaving a wonderful man makes you bad and cruel and possibly dysfunctional. You believe that your boyfriend’s feelings matter more than yours, which is why you say, guiltily, that leaving would only “serve” you – but ignore that staying in this relationship only serves him.

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