Should I break up with him?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: We started our relationship already 5 years ago, in 2003, and it has never been stable. We have broken up and started again a lot of times. We have a pattern: we break up and are separated for some months, then he starts sending messages, calling and apologising, saying that he really loves me and we start again. When we are together we make plans to marry or to live together but until now he always found some excuse to postpone it. I like him a lot but I know very little about him and he doesn’t like to talk about himself. For me he is still misterious. We are only really together when we meet, usually once a week during 2 days. After that he usually disappears for some days with a good excuse because of the work he has. he doesn’t call me or contact me in any way. Afterwards he comes, stays with me 1 or 2 days and goes away again. He never introduced me to any member of his family, not even through photos and I only know very few of his friends.

Nowadays I never have the courage or the confidence to present him to other people as my boyfriend because I don’t feel that we have a real relationship and I don’t know how long it is going to last this time and I feel ashamed of this relationship because all my friends and family know about our history and criticize it. Besides, I must admit that I hope that somebody else will come along with whom I could have a real relationship and I don’t want to loose my chances because of being associated with him.

In the first years I caught him in some serious lies: he said he was working for some secret service in his country, he made up a false last name, he said he had committed a crime but later admitted he had only said that to see how I would react, he said his brother came to visit him and later indirectly admitted it was a lie. What I can not forget is the lie he told me 2 years about leaving definitely to go back to his country and then I found out after almost 2 months that he was in town when a friend of mine saw him on the street.

I am away now, to study for some months in another country, because I didn’t like our relationship and I wasn’t able to break up. It is like an addiction, when I am with him I feel good and he supports me but when he leaves I feel I don’t have anything, that I live a shallow relationship. In this 1rst month that I have been away he only sent me 2 emails and 1 sms message. I will come back in December and he says he is waiting for me but I don’t want to go again to the same vicious circle.

I feel I am getting older, I am running out of time to create a family and I might be losing my time with him. I should either jump into this relationship 100% or I should end it. But I don’t have the courage to do either. I feel that if I break up I will lose a good opportunity of having my own family because I believe he loves me.

A: You’ve invested 5 years of your life with a man who won’t fold you into his life and who has chronically lied to you. I can’t tell you whether you should break up or not. But what I can tell you is that he isn’t likely to change. He maintains the mystery because he likes it that way and you tolerate it. He won’t let you jump in 100% however you might want to. He won’t jump in 100% either. You’re 38 years old. If you really want a family, you have a hard decision to make.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Nov 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Should I break up with him?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/11/17/should-i-break-up-with-him/