I watched your TEDx talk on YouTube and felt a real connection to the words you expressed and a warmth to your personality. Here’s my dilemma: I’m a gay man who has been in a relationship for eight years, and a civil partnership for five years. But I feel no connection emotionally or physically to my husband. He’s a great guy, much better than me at so many things. We have hit a rocky patch and I feel in my heart it’s the end. But I’m scared of the future and I’m scared of hurting him. Where do you begin? Any words of advice would really help me through your experience.
Where to Go from Here?
Dearest Where to Go:
I’m so sorry that you find yourself in such a complicated place. As you know, I can relate. So often, we stay in long-term relationships because they’re comfortable and we’re afraid. Boy oh boy, do I get that.
One of the hardest things for me to grapple with, when I was letting go of my own relationship, was the fact that Hector was really good. I mean, I get breaking up with a jerk. But a good guy? A good person, with a good heart and good intentions? How do we get rid of someone like that, even if they’re not giving us what we want? After all, look at all the people out there who would give anything just to have someone good in their lives. My guy wasn’t physically hurting me. Disrespecting me. Cheating on me. How dare I even want or think I deserved more?
And then there was the issue of what would happen if I did decide to leave. What would happen to me? Would I be alone forever? Would I lament the decision—when he found that other woman in a six size body to marry? And I was alone in a nursing home, without teeth or visitors…
The answer is a romantic partner doesn’t have to be awful as a condition of leaving. He can be lovely. Wonderful, in fact! Better than we are (although I doubt that’s true!). And still not be the people who are right for us. Read that a few times.
If you are really ready to move on as you say you are and believe in your heart of hearts it’s time, you must push past your understandable fears and take action. Put one foot in front of the other. In fact, congratulate yourself for writing this note to me (I’m so glad you did!). In doing so, you’ve put your intention out there and that’s a great first step towards change.
Listen, I understand your fears about the future. What will happen to you? Will you be alone forever? Is this your last chance at love? Who knows? None of us can predict the future, but what I can tell you is this: Love yourself enough to find out. And honor your partner, who also deserves to receive the love he gives. There are not guarantees, for any of us. But as long as you’re in the wrong relationship, you won’t be open or available for the right one. And you won’t attract healthy love, because healthy people don’t want to be with people who are engaged someplace else.
Now let’s talk about hurting your partner. I wish I could tell you he won’t feel a thing. He will. It’s going to hurt like a son-of-a-b@#%@ (although you may be surprised by his response, especially if you’ve hit a rocky patch; I don’t know him, but chances are if you’re unhappy, he likely is too). But that’s okay. Because heartbreak is not a life sentence. And yet, in order to get past these dark clouds, you have to go through hem. There’s no other way. That’s the choice: Stay and be stuck or leave and journey the weather to the light.
It also comes down to a choice between you or him. Do you stay to care for his feelings and sacrifice your own or vice versa? Just know that it’s not selfish to choose yourself. You are entitled to have what you want in your life—as long as you go about it with loving kindness for all parties involved, including yourself.
Now to answer your question: Where do you begin? By allowing yourself your own feelings, identifying what it is you do want—from life and love—and having an honest conversation with your partner. It doesn’t have to be a definitive conversation; it can just be a first step out of the gate. Just know that if he hasn’t processed a reality that has you no longer together, he may react defensively when you tell him that’s what you want. That’s okay. Let him. Everybody has to have their feelings in order to move past them. That’s about him, not you. (Let go of taking things personally.) Just let him say what he needs to say with a loving ear and without getting defensive yourself.
Then, make a plan—either together or on your own—as to how you’ll best extricate yourself from the situation. And make sure you both have a support system (e.g., close friend, counselor, family member, etc.) to be your soft place to land and help guide you through. I don’t know what I would have done without mine…
Unfortunately, Where to Go, there really is no easy way out, but the good news is that there IS a way out. It won’t feel bad forever—if you take action now. I hope you will. As I say in my talk, and don’t we all know it, life is too short to be holding onto the life and love that doesn’t send us or give us what we want.
When I left my relationship, I had no idea what was waiting around the bend. So I decided to shower myself with love, instead of worrying about how to give it to someone else or whether I’d ever have the chance. But I worked on myself, held steadfast to the belief that I deserved more. And it worked out. Big time. And it can for you as well.
I’m rooting for you, Where to Go. You can do it!
Fans & Followers
Watch Jill’s TEDxWilmington Talk: The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go
Learn more about Jill Sherer Murray: www.letgoforit.com
Jill Sherer Murray is an award-winning writer and speaker who studies creativity, relationships and self-growth. She is also the founder of Let Go For It®, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life. Jill’s TEDx talk as well as her advice column, Big Wild Love: Let Go For It® were created in service to her loyal and growing fan base, who seek support in the act and the art of letting go for the love they desire and deserve. Follow Jill @letgoforit on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.