Q: Hi Meredith,
I need some breakup advice. I am in my early 30s and ending my three-year relationship with my late-20s girlfriend. This is by far the most serious romantic relationship of my lifetime and even though I love her very much, we aren't very good at being together. We have had numerous breakups over the years, including a seven month breakup last year before reuniting for "one last chance."
One last chance lasted a couple of months before we settled back into our pattern of constant arguing. It all came to a head last week, which is when we made the mutual decision for her to move out of my apartment after a month of living together.
My mind is made up and although it's extremely difficult and sad, I know we need to split up. She is less sure and here is where my problem lies. The number of healthy relationships in her life is much smaller than mine. Her family hasn't been supportive of her, and her friends have never been very compassionate people. The closest she had come to being part of a functional family has been with mine. I am in a much different situation with the most loving and supportive family and friends anyone could ever ask for. She has told me that her entire support system is me, and I know that it's true. I feel terrible and have tried to be as helpful as possible during this process, but it has it's been a challenge.
She texts and calls multiple times a day alternating between anger, acceptance, making me feel guilty, and apologizing. I have agreed to help her move as I have a truck and am not sure there is anyone else that can/will help her. That much I am committed to. I want to be there for her when she needs me, but I feel like I may be doing her a disservice by being available to her.
The last time we broke up, I had to cut off all communication and be the bad guy, but she had a better support system that time. This time, we have both acknowledged that it feels different and that we would like to maintain contact in some way in the future (even though I have been clear that it would never be in a romantic capacity).
Is that a bad idea? Am I hurting the situation more than helping by answering her calls and texts? I want to do right by her and right now it isn't easy to see what the right thing is.
– Trying to be a Good Guy, Mass.
A: Move her out of your place and then give her indefinite space, TTBAGG. Once she's gone, there's no real need for calls and texts -- unless she forgot something at your apartment.
It's possible that you guys have what it takes to be pals in the future, but it's way too soon to think about that. She needs to start a new life without you. She won't be able to move on if she's leaning on you for support.
Give her some guidelines so that she's not blindsided by your sudden disappearance. Explain to her that you're going to leave her alone so that you're not in her way. Make sure she understands that you also need the distance. It's confusing to be around a recent ex. It hurts. You want her to start a new life, but you don't want to have to watch. At least not yet. You can revisit this issue in the future, but you have to focus on your present.
You don't have to erase her phone number and pretend that you don't know her, but you do have to move her out and start treating her like an ex. It'll be painful, but that's the point. It's a breakup. So go away. That's the nicest thing you can do.
Readers? Should they be in touch at all? What about her lack of support system? What should he do? Help.
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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.