Q: I've been with my fiance for eight years. We have been living together for six and engaged for about four. We have gone through a lot of up and downs, and I often think that this relationship isn't what will make me happy. We have very little in common, and the little quirks that used to be cute (or tolerable) are completely aggravating and annoying. I have also recently had feelings for someone else, and over the last several years there have been a few other men I have had feelings for. Seeing this other guy with his new girlfriend is really driving me crazy and I just can't get him out of my head no matter how hard I try. Three weeks ago I couldn't hold it in any longer and broke down, telling my fiance that I haven't been happy for a while. I haven't worn my engagement ring since that day either, and he is upset about that, saying that I'm now telling the whole world that I'm single. We recently started couples counseling to see if we can improve things, but I don't have high expectations. My friends and family (and his family as well) have told us that we should break up. Logically, I know these are red flags for our relationship, but I am having so much trouble letting my fiance go.
– Trouble Letting Go, Boston
A: It sounds like you're afraid to be single, TLG. It also sounds like you don't want to have to be accountable for this decision.
It's clear to me (and to your entire community) that this relationship isn't what it should be. I find it interesting that despite all of the red flags, your fiance continues to stay with you. Is it love? Routine? Or ... is it possible that you haven't been 100 percent truthful about the nature of your doubts?
My advice is to be honest in counseling. Like, brutally honest. I'm sure that you've been candid about some of your concerns, but please, be blunt about all of them. Instead of pretending that there are ways to improve the relationship (communication, romance, etc.), tell it like it is and say, "I have a crush on someone else, I've had these crushes for years, and I just don't think that we have anything in common." He needs to hear all of that. Also ask questions. As in, "What keeps you in this relationship?" Find out why he sticks around.
Your letter doesn't say anything about loving your fiance. You never say that you're worried about him or scared of what life will be like without his companionship. Maybe it's all implied ... but I'm not so sure. If you're simply afraid to make a decision, use the counseling to help you get there. Don't water anything down. Just be honest, even if it hurts. It's supposed to.
Readers? Can this relationship be saved? What isn't the letter writer telling us? Why is the fiance sticking around? Is this about a fear of being single? 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.