Q: Hi Meredith,
I'm having a dilemma. I've been seeing someone for the past year. Things started very well with us. We were very into each other and within three months we were finally comfortable to say "I love you.”
Months ago, things turned for the worse when she told me she was questioning our relationship. I found out that she had a crush on this guy she knew from high school. One night, she went to a party with him and cheated on me. She called me that night and told me how much she regretted it and that it made her realize how much she wanted to be with me.
Our relationship was pretty rocky at that point. I decided to stay with her because I really felt like she regretted her mistake. Not long after that, they both hung out at a bar together. Me, not trusting the two together, found some text messages that they exchanged about their feelings for each other. I confronted her with that, and she blamed the alcohol.
Months later, she got a job that required her to move several hours away. Things changed directions completely after that. She became clingy, jealous, and demanding/controlling. She gets angry if I don't text her enough, if I don't show her my e-mails, or if a female posts on my Facebook. Even when I am visiting my guy friends, she gets angry with me for something or another. I feel like we always fight now and I'm feeling very confined. I feel like she's constantly angry with me for things completely out of the blue.
My dilemma is that I'm pretty sure I know what I have to do. I think I need to break up with her because I'm not happy in the relationship. But for some reason, when I have opportunities to call it off, I choke. I don't do it. I feel like I can't do it. She's talking about moving in with me and marrying me (ad nauseum) and I know that I can't do either. Do you have any advice? Does this reflect my own insecurities? Is this a common issue?
– Seeking Help, Massachusetts
A: You're "pretty sure" that you know what you have to do? You should be 100 percent sure, SH. It's over, or at least it should be. Your relationship sounds pretty awful.
As for whether it's common to fear breaking up with a controlling woman with a temper, well, of course it is. You fear dumping her for the same reason that I fear going to the dentist. Even if it goes well, it's not going to be pleasant. The best case scenario is still pretty awful.
My advice is to get it done -- soon. Write something down so you don't trip up. Practice your speech in front of the mirror. Drive to see her and deliver it in person. Be honest but kind. Tell her that you care about her, but that too much of your relationship has been spent in conflict. Tell her that you don't see yourself marrying her. Tell her that you're sorry that you can't meet her expectations.
She'll probably yell at you. She'll probably cry. And she'll probably try to bargain with you. That's why you have to write it all down, so you don't lose your train of thought -- or your will to finish it off.
No one likes to be the bad guy. No one likes to go to the dentist. But we have to do what we have to do. Write it down and force yourself to say it.
Readers? Is he afraid of losing her? How can he get over the fear of her reaction? Does writing it down help? How does a good guy learn to deliver bad news? Any advice to get this moving? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.