I’ve been with my partner for a few years and she’s great. We’re compatible, we get along, we’re great friends; I love her dearly and don’t want to hurt her. The problem is that I’m not really sure I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I find myself deeply attracted to other women and I long for the freedom of being single again. I’ve been on the fence for a while, but my partner wants us to get married. I don’t think I want that right now, but I don’t know how to break the news to her. How do I say goodbye?
Scared About Departing
Breakups are painful, and I commend you for wanting to break the news respectfully. Before you act, you need to gain clarity about your decision. You say that you are “not really sure” that you want to stay with her. You also write that you “love her dearly” and that you are “compatible” and “great friends.” I wonder what is inspiring your desire for freedom.
You say that you don’t know if you want marriage “right now,” which suggests that you imagine being married one day. What is preventing you from feeling ready at this moment?
Carl Jung conceptualized “The Shadow,” which is comprised of the dark parts of yourself that you cannot accept. Could it be that your desire to be sexual with other women is incongruent with your ideal of a good husband? If so, I would encourage you to separate desire from action. It is normal to find other people attractive even after signing a ketubah, and it is normal to long for freedom at times. You have a choice about whether or not to act on these desires.
If your longing for freedom overrides your desire for companionship, then you are right to end the relationship. Speak with her in person, be direct and kind. Tell her that you love her, but that you want to be single at this point. Be prepared to discuss practical issues regarding the dissolution of your shared life, including rent if you’re living together, custody of pets and expectations for communicating with mutual friends. If she feels angry or hurt, listen to her supportively and answer any questions that she asks to help her gain closure.
I used to love watching my husband interact at social events. He was so charming and outgoing, but now he’s driving me up the wall. I can’t listen to his “funny” stories for the 100th time. I know he misses the adoration that I used to feel for him, but it’s hard to feel close when I’m so annoyed. Am I asking too much for him to spend a low-key weekend watching movies instead of packing our schedules with social obligations?
– Tearful Introvert Resents Energized Dude
It sounds like you married an extrovert who thrives in social situations. We often attract partners who possess strengths that we lack – but over time these differences can create tension.
When you first met, you were giddy to dress up and party as though life were an endless Purim carnival. Several years in, you’d rather watch Netflix in your slippers and let him revel on his own. I recommend talking to him about the pleasure you experience from quiet nights at home. Tell him that you would love him to stay in and make fondue or play a board game, but that you are also content spending time alone if he wants to go to a concert with friends. Just make sure that you also engage in activities where your interests overlap, otherwise you will drift apart.
When you start to feel annoyed, remember that he brings energy and joy into your world, and a life with him by your side will never be boring.
As journalist Mignon McLaughlin wrote, “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” When you embrace each other’s differences, you discover new depths of each other’s personalities and create space for your love to grow.
Elana Hunter is a clinical mental health therapist and relationship coach who is honored to have written for Jstyle for the last four years. This will be her last “Ask Elana” column. If you have relationship questions in the future, you can find Elana at kickstartlove.com.