Dear GF911: Is There a Boyfriend 911???
This is the second time that I'm writing to you. I've asked before whether there is a Boyfriend 911 and now I'm here, in an emergency...
Some background. I'm a 25 year old IT guy, working for an international company and just starting my real career. I'm working hard on fixing financial issues at home: paying bills for my parents and so on. My girlfriend is 20 years old, she's without a job, really sensitive, and has quite low self-esteem, not to mention she's a bit clingy. I feel like I don't have enough space in this relationship. I'm her first "real" boyfriend, which I think makes this a lot harder. When we started going out, I hoped that we would be able to advance and grow together, but after 3 years it seems that we've grown apart. She thinks that I'm the best thing in her life, while I feel drained most of the time. I don't know how to communicate this to her. I do love her, but is it still love when you would like your partner to change drastically? That's not the way things should be, right? We're completely dependent on each other and it doesn't feel healthy.
I'm not used to breaking up, is there anyone who is? I don't even know whether it would be the best choice. I would like to have a workaround instead of breaking up, but I can't figure out how to repair this relationship, as it would most likely involve huge changes on both sides. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated on what I should do to clear up this mess.
Girlfriend 911 Admirer
Dear Girlfriend 911 Admirer,
The best advice I can give you is be true to yourself. When you do what is right for you, you will do what is right for her, even if it doesn't feel that way at the beginning.
The more you stay true to yourself, the more your girlfriend will either want be on the same page as you, or if she decides that doesn't work for her, she always has the choice to leave the relationship. I wouldn't end the relationship just yet. As a step one I would start by explaining to her, just like you did to me, how you feel about her – that you do love her, but you feel there are problems in the relationship. Be very direct and honest with her what those problems are. For example, if you feel drained and need more space, tell her that. Tell her that for right now you think the relationship would be a lot healthier if you guys weren't so dependent on each other, and if each of you had a little bit more independence outside of the relationship.
As I told you before, I think you need to insist that she reads my book, Girlfriend 911, maybe that will help her understand that unless she does some serious work on herself first (discovering the value of creating healthy standards and boundaries in her life as the path to empowerment, confidence, high self-esteem and self love), she is never going to be able to have a healthy relationship. And just because you're asking for more space doesn't mean you love her any less. In fact it means the opposite: that you are fighting hard for the relationship because you know in your heart if it continues down the path you're currently on, it's probably not going to last.
I hope this helps you and is a good starting point for your next step.