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Too Guilty To Leave: Are You Delaying A Breakup Out Of Guilt?

Most breakups aren’t mutual. Many of us are familiar with the sense of rejection and loss when a partner chooses to leave.  You might also be familiar with the difficulty of being the one to initiate the breakup.  Sometimes ending a relationship can be so hard that we put it off for days, weeks, and even years.  Many people get stuck in this stage, and one major reason for this is an overwhelming sense of guilt.

Relationships end. They end all the time and for all sorts of reasons.  Despite our best intentions, sometimes people just aren’t compatible, or they have different life paths. In fact, most people don’t find “the one” until after a series of “failed” relationships.  Ending a relationship doesn’t make you a bad person, even if you fear that your partner will see you that way.

Too often, we stay long after we know we should leave, because we can’t stand to abandon someone we still care about.  The thoughts cycle through our head:

  • “I don’t want to hurt her”
  • “I feel responsible for him”
  • “I can’t stand to make her cry”
  • “He’s not going to be able to cope without me”
  • “She’s such a good person and doesn’t deserve to have her heart broken”
  • “He doesn’t have a good social support system to get him through this”
  • “She’s going to hate me forever”

These feelings are natural, and show that you’re a caring, compassionate person.  However, this desire to protect your partner can keep you living a lie.  You owe your partner honesty and respect; you don’t owe him or her continued devotion when the relationship has expired in your heart and mind.

It can be especially difficult when you make a promise to your partner, and it conflicts with what your heart is telling you.  For example, what if you’re engaged, and you develop strong feelings that the engagement is a mistake?

I can’t tell you what to do in circumstances like that — major life decisions need to be taken on a case-by-case basis.  However, I can say that the feelings of regret and second-thoughts need to be brought out in the open with your partner.  Otherwise, the feelings will build, and you may come to unfairly resent your partner.  Don’t let guilty feelings silence you.

If you’re delaying a breakup, remember:

1. Heartbreak is a fact of life

As sad as it seems, we all sign-up for the possibility of heartbreak when we go into a relationship.  In fact, most relationships end in some form of painful feelings.  It’s futile to try to protect people from this, and any attempt to do so will only result in more pain.  In a way, heartbreak is a beautiful thing:  It shows us how vulnerable we are, and it makes the good times that much better.

2. If the roles were switched, you’d want to know ASAP

Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who secretly desires a breakup?  You deserve someone who wants to be with you, and so does your partner.

3. You’re wasting both your time and your partner’s time

You’re only becoming more invested as you stay.  You’re also taking up your partner’s time when he or she should be on the road to healing.

4. Nobody should have to fake their feelings

Withholding your feelings or pretending that everything is OK is stressful for you. What’s more, your partner can probably sense that something’s wrong.  Once you finally drop the news, it will be obvious that you weren’t acting authentic for a long time.  It will be painful when your partner realizes that you were “faking it” for him or her.

I hope you’re convinced that – once you know you that you want to leave – the breakup should happen sooner rather than later. I’ll be back with more tips for people dealing with the difficult issue of ending a relationship.


179 Responses to Too Guilty To Leave: Are You Delaying A Breakup Out Of Guilt?

  1. Kegan December 5, 2016 at 4:14 am #

    I’ve been with my boyfriend now for just over 3 years. We are young but I am two years older than him. For about the last year and a half I have wanted to break up with him a few times, but each time there has always been something that has come up (some one walks in the room, we are fighting and he makes me laugh, etc.) But for the past 6 months I have felt mentally out of my relationship with him, and for the past 4 months I have felt like he is a burden, being more annoying than usual, getting into bad moods easily when I’m around him, trying to stall for hours before hanging out with him. And more recently he has definitely changed, becoming more jealous, insecure about our relationship, among other things.

    Right now we are on a two week break while I am away and he is at home. I know that I have changed and am growing and it feels like he still the same person. Because of this it feels like to me that we are on different pages. He has a different career path than I do, and it will essentially force me into making sacrifices for his job in the future. I was willing to do that before, but now I find myself becoming a little more selfish.

    I’m scared to break up with him in a week, but this first week away from each other has really shown me just how controlling and manipulative he can be. Every time I try to end it he talks me out of it. We have had some rough patches in our relationship and some extreme lows. But with that we have had a lot of good times together. I use to be able to see myself moving in with him, getting married and starting a family, but now I see myself just wanting to do that with someone I love, rather than my boyfriend in particular.

    Knowing what you have to do, and doing it are scary and upsetting. I am afraid to end an okay relationship with him, his family, and his friends. They have been all I have known these past 3 years, and I am afraid in a week I will talk myself out it.

  2. Lyla December 5, 2016 at 11:05 am #

    I am in a 2 year relationship. My boyfriend proposed to me a year ago and he took the ring back a few months ago. He always calls me stupid and he says that I’m too stupid to be with him. He doesn’t have a job and I am currently supporting us. I feel like our relationship is over, but I don’t know how to end it. We recently moved to a new state from our hometown, so I’m not quite sure how to get him home as he doesn’t have his own car. I thought about getting him a rental truck but he has a suspended license and I’m worried about him driving 7 hours without a license. But things need to end soon I can’t continue to support both of us, I’m a 19 year old server and he’s 27. Someone please help me out or give advice! I’m worried emotionally also, I’m worried we won’t be able to handle being without each other. I feel like the only way I could break up with him is if I cheated, but I don’t want to do that to him either. I just don’t deserve to be told every day that I am stupid and worthless. PLEASE HELP, I’m begging you!

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