Am I Selfish for Not Wanting to Settle?

Dear Ginzo,

I have been with my partner for about 8 years. I can honestly say that he’s a great person (kind, generous, selfless at times and very loving). I feel like he loves me more than I love him. He always wants to be around me and spend time with me. I’m just indifferent. I feel like we’re best friends but for all intents and purposes, we’re glorified roommates. I can’t say that I’m in love with him anymore but I do know I love him, its more platonic than romantic. His family loves me and my family loves him. I feel like I’m settling and I don’t want to hurt him but I also don’t want to be unhappy and stuck in a relationship that does nothing for me. Am I being selfish? What should I do?

Scared to Settle

Dear Scared to Settle,

My heart goes out to you. It must be so difficult to contend with these feelings of doubt, to care for your partner but to feel like it is just not right. There is nothing selfish about that. I am sure you wish you could just magic those romantic feelings for him again instead of having to contemplate starting a new life without him.

I can’t tell you what to do, but to me, there are two options here: you either stick around and try to work through it with your partner, or you end the relationship. Reading that, you may have felt in your gut what you must do. Did one option make you feel relief, while the other felt like a weight on your chest? If so, go for the one that lifts your burden. If not, here are some thoughts to help you with your decision.

For door number one (staying and working it out), you will have to talk to your partner about how you are feeling. Being honest and vulnerable is terrifying, but it is the only way you can work through it. Of course, he will likely have a lot of feelings about it; he may feel hurt, rejected, or confused if he hasn’t picked up your feelings. Or he may surprise you by expressing the same doubts, or relief that you are finally opening up about yours. Trust that your partner can handle your truth, and accept his, whatever his proves to be. You may pursue couples counseling, or maybe go into counseling by yourself. Sometimes, unhappiness within ourselves manifests as unhappiness with others. Maybe your feelings of indifference in your relationship are not about your partner, but unhappiness within yourself. If that rings true to you, I encourage you to work through these feelings with a therapist.

On the other hand, your heart may be telling you that it really is over; that as much as you care for him, you just don’t want to be in a relationship with your partner anymore. And that’s okay. There’s an expression that is floating around the internet that goes like this: “Don’t keep making a mistake because you spent a lot time making it.” That is not to say I think your relationship is a mistake at all. I’m sure that you have gotten a lot out of it over the past eight years. Just because a relationship doesn’t last forever, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worthwhile and successful. On the flip side, just because a relationship lasts for a long time doesn’t mean it is a success, as is demonstrated by the many miserable marriages in the world. The point I am trying to make with this quote is that the length of a relationship is not a good reason to stay in it. You have a lot of history with this person, but that doesn’t mean that you have a future with him.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Eight years is a long time, and a lot has changed. It’s okay that you are not the same person with the same needs you were eight years ago when you first got together. Actually, it is better that you aren’t. Sometimes in relationships, you grow together, but often, you grow apart. There is nothing wrong with that, and as generous, kind, and loving as your partner may be, if he isn’t the person you want to be with, then it is the kinder choice to let him go. The selfish decision would be to stay in a relationship with him while he continues to think that everything is fine when it really is not. Being broken up with is a terrible feeling, but not as bad as waking up one day to find that your partner has spent years feeling indifferent about you, building up resentment that makes things impossible to fix.

Of course, breakups are the literal worst, and it means jumping back into the unknown that is being single. And I am sure you are not eager to break the heart of someone you truly care about, especially when you don’t know for sure if you will find someone who is better suited to you (though you’ll never know unless you try). Keep in mind that no one can predict the future. You may be catastrophizing, thinking that if you break up with him, you will ruin any friendship you could have with him while simultaneously fating yourself to a life of loneliness and cat lady status (at least, that is what my brain likes to do to me). In reality, no cities will topple if you end this relationship.

Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” If you decide to close that door, don’t spend too long lingering around it, wondering if you made a mistake. It may be hard for a long time, but one day, you will wake up and it won’t be the first thing you think about. Then a little while later, you wake up and you feel pretty good. As time moves on, you accept the change in your life, and you start opening yourself up to new possibilities. Suddenly, there are new doors everywhere, and you might find yourself willing to open one more than just a crack.
I hope that, regardless of what you decide to do, you find the happiness you seek. Best of luck, my friend.

XOXO,
Ginzo

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How Do I Break Up With Someone?

Dear Ginzo,

I’ve never broken up with someone before but I have to now. In my previous relationships the other person always ended it. A few times I have wanted to get out too but haven’t had the courage to actually break up with them. I’m embarrassed to admit that I will just kinda pull away until they finally end it or get the hint and we just stop talking. I recently realized this about myself and decided that if I was ever unhappy in a relationship again, I would break up with them instead of my usual cowardly move. But now that I have been seeing this person for a few months, I realized that we just don’t have that much in common and I don’t see myself with them long term. But I’m scared. I really don’t want to hurt their feelings because I think they’re great, just not right for me. I am also debating my method. When I told one friend I was just going to text my soon-to-be-ex and get it over with, she yelled at me. Then I talked to another friend about it and she says she would actually PREFER to be broken up with over text. Wtf? What do I do now? HELP!

Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee

Dear Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee,

First of all, hats off for recognizing this about yourself and deciding to make a change. In a world where “ghosting” has become a common experience in the world of dating, it’s good to hear that you’re taking the road of emotional maturity.

I have had the discussion, “Is there really a good way to breakup with someone?” many a time, often when someone brings up that episode of Sex in the City when Berger broke up with Carrie on a post-it note (and I hate Carrie Bradshaw but yeah, that’s a terrible way to breakup with someone). I think there is a right way to breakup with someone, to a point. Either way, you are ending the relationship, and regardless of the circumstances, it can hurt. Rejection sucks and change is hard to accept. But there is definitely a way to break up with a person that shows them respect and allows you to be both honest about your feelings and sensitive to theirs. When it comes to your situation, it sounds like it is simply a matter of lack of chemistry. They have done you no wrong; it just isn’t going to work out. In this case, being too specific only serves to hurt their feelings. For example, being like, “Well, I think you’re really great, but your porcelain doll collection is off-putting and I can’t see myself being down to go to any of those conventions you attend” is just going to hurt their feelings. You don’t have to lie, but a simple, “The chemistry is just not there for me” should suffice. Also, none of this, “Well, I am just not ready for a relationship right now” stuff because that only serves to lead them on. Don’t leave a door open for them that you know is shut for you.

As far as over text v. in-person debate goes, I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with breaking up with someone over text message. It’s really all about context. Someone with whom you were making long-term plans and have been seeing for over a year? Yeah, you sure as shit better not break up with them over text. Someone you have dated for a couple of months and had maybe 5 dates with? Eh, you might save them the gas money and their dignity by letting them read your breakup texts swaddled in a nest of blankets and sadness. Today, text is the primary form of communication for many relationships, romantic or otherwise, and it is in the process of changing the etiquette of a lot of social situations, hence your two friends’ wildly different opinions on the subject.

If you are still not sure which is the best route, I would suggest you decide which way based on their preferred method of communication. Are they more verbal (i.e. do they prefer phone calls over texting, do they express affection out loud)? Or are they more inclined to express their feelings non-verbally (i.e. over text, through body language), in which case, an in-person breakup may be way more difficult for them to handle? Hopefully after dating for a couple of months, you have some insight into their communication style. Reflect on them as a person and this will guide you in the direction of a breakup that’s respectful.

Best of luck breaking things off, and give yourself a good pat on the back for being an emotionally intelligent human.

Love,
Ginzo

Am I Leading On These Tinder Guys?

Dear Ginzo,

I just got out of a long-term relationship a little over a month ago, and I am definitely not ready to dating anyone else seriously. However, I am getting to the point where I am lonely and curious about what’s out there, and frankly, could use an ego boost. I recently downloaded Tinder and wow! Talk about an ego boost! But now I have been chatting with a few guys on there who have expressed interest in me. I am feeling guilty about not wanting to take any of them seriously, but Tinder isn’t really where people go to meet the love of their life. Am I doing something wrong, as long as I’m not making profiles on any serious dating sites yet?

Sincerely,

Single and (Almost) Ready to Mingle

Dear Single and (Almost) Ready to Mingle,

Isn’t dating just the worst? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful parts of it, like when you really connect with someone and you feel a little less alone in this world, or when they buy you food. But it is also very complicated in this day and age when we have way more options than ever before when it comes to relationship status. When you’re on a dating app, you could be looking for a permanent monogamous partnership, you could be looking for someone to tickle your toes and never call you again, or more likely, something in between the two. There is nothing wrong with wanting any of these things; the important thing is that you clearly communicate what you want.

I think you are right in that Tinder isn’t the most serious dating app; it definitely has had a reputation for being a “hookup” app in the past. However, you would probably be surprised by how many long-term relationships and even marriages have come out of Tinder now that it has been around for a couple years. If I could shoot a reading recommendation your way, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari has a lot of interesting information about the revolution of Tinder, as well as dating trends in the modern world in general. You might find some intriguing information for yourself there as you navigate back into the dating world. But before you run out to your local bookstore for some great advice from Aziz, let me just make it clear that you being on Tinder as opposed to a dating site that is marketed as more for long-term love doesn’t get you off the hook for clearly communicating your needs. Of course, there will be plenty of gents who are more interested in the hook up side of Tinder, but there will be others who genuinely want to meet a cool person they can connect with on a romantic level.

In many cases, it will be easy to differentiate between the two. A guy who messages you and asks for pictures of your genitalia is probably not looking for much more than a picture of your genitalia, for example. But if you start talking to someone and find that the conversation flows easily between you and a deeper connection could be made, don’t let it get too deep before you have the good old, “So what are you looking for?” conversation. Contrary to what some people might think, this isn’t going to dose the emerging flame of your romance. Clear communication is extremely sexy to most adults trying to make a real romantic connection.  

As far as what you say you are looking for yourself, you don’t have to feel pressured to get into the nitty gritty of your breakup. And you probably shouldn’t say anything like, “Just trying to get an ego boost from the schlongs on this app!” I would go with brief but honest: “I just got out of a relationship so I am not looking for anything serious, but I downloaded Tinder to dip a toe in and see what’s out there.” If you are not ready to go on dates yet, say that. One very freeing part of your situation is that you don’t have to worry about “scaring people off” by being “too honest.” If you aren’t ready to date, be upfront about it; you don’t need these guys to stick around to feed your ego because in the age of online dating, there is always another ego boost around the corner. And really, if they aren’t willing to have an honest conversation about what they want, they probably aren’t worth much more than ego boost anyway.

In summary, Tinder away, but don’t deceive anyone about your intentions. Congrats for taking the first step towards moving on, and I hope you ultimately find whatever it is you’re looking for, on or off line.

Ginzo