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Woe Is Me! “I Fought My Parents to Be in a Relationship, But Now I Can’t Stand Him. What To Do?”

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Dec 20, 2020

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Image credit: Trishul (1978)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.


I fought my family to move in with my partner of 12 years, but I simply can’t stand living with him. We’ve stayed together for three years now, and my parents keep pushing me to marry him, but my friends think I can do better. Sometimes I worry I will not be happy if I marry him but then later I think i won’t be happy ever because I wont find anyone to love ever. What do I do?

— Stuck In A Puzzle

DR: Wow, you do seem to be in some really hot water there! At the outset, I want to ask you if you’re sure that your worries aren’t just stemming from the fact that you’re missing the sparks that fly when a relationship is new. Three years into it, a sense of familiarity has, perhaps, taken over your equation with him, leading you to mistake that for boring? And, maybe, your friends’ opinions of him, are adding to your already-growing concerns. If you think that’s a possibility at all, then I think you should spend some time trying to clear your mind, and then re-think this relationship afresh. However, I understand that that may not be the case at all, and I certainly don’t want to assume — just thought I should put it out there.

Now, if you’re sure that you don’t see a future with this person — of course, break up. Even if, as you’ve put it: you don’t find anyone to love ever, it’s not worth being with someone you don’t love either, right? Also, don’t you think it would be unfair to him if you stick with him just because you’re worried you can’t find someone else? Maybe, he could find someone else who loves him, if you don’t. And by continuing to be with him, you’ll deny him that.  

But, in your case, I think the more difficult bit is to appraise your parents about your decision, in case you do decide to break up. My advice: just rip the band-aid off! If they are going to find out sooner or later, what’s the point in postponing it further? Good luck!

LG: First, never marry someone just because parents are pushing you to. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially if you’re already deeply unhappy with your partner, which it sounds like you are. But your expectation of fallout with your parents is realistic — given their pressure, they’re unlikely to appreciate that a long relationship doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good one. I hope you are financially independent and can support yourself in your own home, rather than having to move back in with them. Regardless, if/when you leave your partner, it might help to be very transparent with your parents about your reasons. Perhaps give examples of your partner’s intolerable behavior and stress how unhappy it makes you — and how it’s unlikely to change in the future. Explain that this is why you had wanted to live with him before getting married — to see if the relationship could be a net-positive force in your life. It isn’t, and so, it’s time to break it off in order to find one that can be. Which would they rather see — you married but unhappy, or you single and happy? (At this precise moment, happily married is not an option, so don’t even let them take it there.)

As for finding love — of course, you will, cupcake! You sound like a feisty lady who thinks deeply about important life decisions and cares about her family and friends. What’s not to love? Think of it this way — as much as you fought for love when moving in with your partner three years ago, you’re fighting for love now, too — a better, lasting kind of love — in your choice to leave him. That love might not come at the ‘normal’ time or the ‘normal’ way — but then ‘normal’ (read: traditional/stereotypical) doesn’t sound like what you want out of life anyway. Breaking off a relationship of more than a decade is so, so difficult. But it sounds like you have good friends around you who want the best for you. Invest in your love for them, and revel in their love for you, for the time being. Despite Bollywood movies and parental pressure, there’s no timeline for love — it’s not a now-or-never, this-or-nothing game. Hang in there, you rebel blossom.

AS: I think the first step to figure this out would be – try to tune out your parents and even your friends. You need to figure out how you feel, and the more you get swayed by outside advice, the less certain you will be of your decision (sigh, the irony of writing this in an advice column is not lost on me.) Anyway, when you say you can’t stand living with him, is it your partner you can’t stand, or is it his lifestyle/habits? Say he’s messy, or unhelpful at home, or maybe he doesn’t give you enough space — all this I think can be sorted out through communication. Remember that when you live with someone, even if it’s your SO, there will be something about them that will get on your nerves, and I think that’s normal.

But, if in spending all this time with this person, you’ve come to notice some serious red flags, then it might be time to reevaluate the relationship. Please don’t stay in the relationship only from the fear that you might not find someone else (though of course you will!), because that’s not fair to you, or to your partner. Sure, your parents might give you some flack for it, but I think you should be open with them about your feelings, and they might come around. After all, they wouldn’t want you stuck in a bad marriage either. If you don’t want to move back in with them, getting financially independent might help you get a place of your own, where you can focus on yourself and then get back out there, once you feel ready.

RP: It sounds like you have two things to deal with: (1) the inevitable “I told you so” from your parents and (2) the current partner who isn’t making you happy. Let’s deal with (2) first! Leave! You will find better. Staying in something because you are afraid of being alone or not finding better is a guarantee that you won’t find better. And a part of you is probably only considering staying because it’s a chance to avoid (1). You deserve a relationship that makes you happy and you won’t know what that’s like unless you let this one go. You are worthy of much more. Go find them! Now let’s come back to the completely unnecessary response from your parents that we know is coming when they tell you they knew what would happen all along.

Yes, that will be painful and I wish people would find better ways to acknowledge their own worth than those 4 words. We know you told us but it doesn’t mean we should have listened. You know this is the right decision now after your attempt at living with your partner. You needed that time to recognize what is best for you and you are now putting yourself first. Let them see the situation the way that you see it. Without regrets, with the conviction that you know what’s right for you, and with the hope and optimism that there’s better out there for you. I think it’s important to share with your parents that the best way to help you is to support you in what you decide and supply a little of the hope and optimism themselves. In the end, they just want you to be happy (and maybe a little validation that they were “right”). I would ignore the latter and focus on the former. Tell them straight how best they can help you navigate the life you want.

KB: Of course you will find someone else! In fact, the only way to find the person you really do want to be with long-term is to leave the person you know you definitely don’t want to be with. You’ve now experienced what a lot of my American friends call a “dry run,” that is, when you move in with a potential life partner to see if you’ve got what it takes to make it as a couple. People do this all the time, only to discover that they are not remotely compatible when they’re living under the same roof. Please get yourself out of this ‘sunk cost’ mindset, where you feel just because you’ve already invested 12 long years in one person, you now have to stay with him forever because you’ve already invested so much, cutting things off would be tantamount to ‘losing’ those years. You did not lose those years. You still lived, learned, experienced, made friends, read books, traveled, and became the person you are now. Those are not wasted years. It is up to you to turn your life experience into the confidence to walk away from someone you know is not right for you. (Your parents will get over it.)

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Written By The Swaddle Team

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