View Full Version : Questioning whether or not I should break up with my boyfriend...


Calixta
10-25-16, 03:06 PM
My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for nearly three years now and I'm starting to question whether or not I should stay with him.

I'm 27 and he's 23 and we met at university. He was a foreign exchange student from New Zealand, we became fast friends and soon began dating. He was the first person I decided to be with after working my way back from depression. I was in grad school at the time and he was finishing his undergrad degree. He dropped out, never completed his degree, and went back home a year before I graduated and we've spent the last year and a half in a long distance relationship between New Zealand and the US, visiting each other a few times a year and speaking nearly every day. It sounds fishy to some, but we are absolutely committed to each other. It's been tough, but the long distance aspect of our relationship hasn't been the issue, but rather his unemployment and seeming lack of ambition.

After he graduated, he moved back home with him family until he'd be able to find a job and was able to move out. In the time we've been apart, he's been saying how he is sad because he can't find a job even though he's put very little effort into looking. I'm trying my best to be very supportive of him and to come from a place of encouragement. On numerous occasions, I've tried to help him look for a job or help him find another program so he can go back to school and finish the degree he started or find a new field of study. When I try to talk with him about it and talk things through with him, I can tell that he gets a lot of flack from his family about his situation because he instantly shuts down on me and all I can from him about what he wants to do is “I don't know” or “I'm not sure” or “I don't know” or “I don't want to fail” or “I don't know” on repeat for the entire conversation....and it's nearly impossible to try and help him.

We've been in talks about finally moving in together now that I'm done with school, either here or there. He talks about how he wants me to move there, but it's very difficult in my mind to want to make this huge move to a foreign country where he has no job or no place of his own for me to stay while I look for a job and he doesn't have the degree/experience to qualify for a visa to come live here. It just feels like we've come to this dead end and I'm not sure what to do.

I don't want to leave him. I love him so much and I want to help him succeed, but he doesn't seem to want to succeed or do what he needs to do to succeed. I don't know if it's the age difference or what, but I don't want to be the one to have to go to work for both of us while he sits at home playing video games all day and night. That's not the kind of relationship I imagine myself in but at the same time I can't imagine being without him. It also feels like this is a slippery slope in terms of my depression/anxiety..all of the sadness, concern, and guilt I have for not being able to help him and feeling like a horrible partner for even questioning our relationship has been getting me down lately. I don't know. I feel defeated by the whole situation.

I was hoping to get some outside perspective. The people on these boards have always been so supportive and helpful. Thanks!

ToneTone
10-25-16, 05:28 PM
Well, here's a question:

Give me one good reason to move to another country with someone who is not functioning very well. Just one.

Note: "I love" them ... is not a good reason. Love is fleeting; love is misleading; love can quickly disappear. Love can't solve relationship problems or fundamental incapabilities.

On numerous occasions, I've tried to help him look for a job or help him find another program so he can go back to school and finish the degree he started or find a new field of study. When I try to talk with him about it and talk things through with him, I can tell that he gets a lot of flack from his family about his situation because he instantly shuts down on me and all I can from him about what he wants to do is “I don't know” or “I'm not sure” or “I don't know” or “I don't want to fail” or “I don't know” on repeat for the entire conversation....and it's nearly impossible to try and help him.

Actually, it's NOT your job to help him find a job in a foreign country. It's his task to find a job if he can. It's HIS life. You're crossing into his space, treating him--not intentionally--as if he were a two-year-old. That may sound harsh, but trust me: I did this with some of my friends and partners as well. The result was not only disaster, but also thoroughly predictable disaster.

Here's what's more reasonable: HE is working really hard to find a job, being really persistent and thorough and HE calls YOU to take the initiative to brainstorm ideas. In that situation, offering support is reasonable, because the other person is taking the initiative.

When you cross over into his life, you miss that he is NOT valuing his own life, and sorry to say: all the love in the world cannot get someone else to value their own life. Love could be part of a broader process of valuing your own life. But the other person had to get active, aggressively active, in this process.

We can help people intensely for short periods during emergencies, but emergencies are for a limited period of time. Otherwise, the best way to help people is to collaborate with them, work with them, offer them support as THEY strive to reach their goals. I see no striving here. I see no collaboration here. You're doing the work and thinking, not him. He's even shutting you out. Absolutely do not move.

So what are you goals? Let's assume that your life is valuable and that fulfilling some of your ambitions is a good thing. Refer him to a therapist. Encourage him to get help. But a romantic relationship is doomed to misery.

Also check the "rescuer complex." I had that big time. It's a trap. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-white-knight-syndrome/201001/rescuing-yourself-rescuing-relationships-part-1-self


http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/10/savior-complex-toxic-relationship/

Good luck.

Tone


Good luck.

Tone

Tetrahedra
10-25-16, 11:16 PM
Hmm. You're willing to take a big risk to go to a foreign country to live with him. That means saying good bye to the people and places you know here and moving over there, where very likely he is the only person you will know. (To start out with, at least.) What is he risking? From what you've told us, it sounds that he is only gaining from this situation without putting forth anything himself. Of course, it might not actually be so straightforward, but this is an internet forum and I can only go off what you tell me.

I don't know about how life is in New Zealand, but I'm sure it's pretty similar to USA. Twenty-three is kind of an awkward age, at least for me it was. You have these adult responsibilities, but you weren't really taught how to uphold them and you can only jump in and wing it. For some of us, that doesn't come as naturally as it does for others, and its quite possible that your boyfriend really is struggling here. What helped me the most was going to therapy, and it's safe to say that it would probably help your boyfriend as well. Obviously I don't know what's going through his head so I can't give much else advice on what he should or shouldn't do, but he needs help gaining the skills to find employment, and he's not currently receiving them in his current world.

But that's him. That all falls within the realm of his responsibility, though of course you can be supportive and understanding and help him when you can as long as he's not making you responsible for it.

What you can do is talk to him. Lay it out very clearly: You love him, but you don't want to move to New Zealand until you two are in a better place, and you want to see X to happen before you move out of the country. A relationship isn't just love. There has to be practicality, realism, and common sense in place for a relationship to function. And it's not just about making sure he has a job, either. It sounds like you want him to be a better person and to have a purpose in his life. Jobs bring us money, but they also give us goals and allow us to grow and develop our skills (hopefully!). You might want to mention that to him when you talk to him so that he doesn't think that you just want him to be the "breadwinner" or that he's not good enough because he can't get a job. If he doesn't want to take steps necessary in order to improve his life and foster a relationship based on something other than love, it's his decision, not yours. And you would be well within your rights to end the relationship, but at least you talked to him first.

Jeftheginger
10-26-16, 02:04 AM
My advice which probably would not work is to tell him y you want to leave him and that you will unless he pulls his act together.

sarahsweets
10-26-16, 04:02 AM
No way should you move there. He can move here and get a work visa but I feel if you move there you will have so much resentment that it will be toxic. You are setting up the precedent where you remind him about getting a job and finding himself, and he gets to give excuses and keeps on doing things his way, and feels comfortable about it (like intense video games).
Its his life in that regard. If he is serious, he would come here where the opportunities are there for you AND him. I suspect New Zealand doesnt have as much to offer you and your career.

stef
10-26-16, 04:20 AM
You are the only one who can decide this ;

Note, it's complicated to get a work visa for the states. (I've looked into this issue extensively, at work, for someone). you need a solid case and it's lots of paperwork.
i'm wondering if it might be easier for a US citizen, to work in NZ (i mean to get the necesary paperwork) because i know it's relatively easy to work in Australia.
but then what are the actual job opportunities, and what kind of job do you want?

If he's shutting down he might be very depressed about this. IDK can you afford another visit, to see him and talk in person, to seriously look into all of the possibilities?

kilted_scotsman
10-26-16, 10:35 AM
There are quite a few warning bells in your post.

I've been through the long distance relationship thing.... after 7 LDR years my partner moved from the US to the UK a couple of years ago.

There are opportunities in NZ..... if he can't find them now ..... then don't expect that to change just because you're together, in either NZ or the US. Likewise if he can't find a job in NZ... take that as a sign you might have problems too.

THe key is him getting a place of his own and support himself..... if he is unable to do that the chances of a positive outcome are significant'y reduced.

It also sounds like communication/support is one way..... you are in danger of rescuing/mothering him..... not good...... this is a boundary issue that is unlikely to help him in the long term.

My advice would be to put down markers..... eg... I am not joining you until you have your own place..... you don't need to set a deadline.... just make it plain that his ability to motivate himself toward a relationship goal is important to you and your commitment to the relationship.

Pilgrim
10-27-16, 09:07 AM
Don't go to New Zealand there is nothing but sheep there.

Little Missy
10-27-16, 09:17 AM
Don't go to New Zealand there is nothing but sheep there.

And The Dish. :) baaaa baaaaa

Lunacie
10-27-16, 10:33 AM
You are the only one who can decide this ;

Note, it's complicated to get a work visa for the states. (I've looked into this issue extensively, at work, for someone). you need a solid case and it's lots of paperwork.
i'm wondering if it might be easier for a US citizen, to work in NZ (i mean to get the necesary paperwork) because i know it's relatively easy to work in Australia.
but then what are the actual job opportunities, and what kind of job do you want?

If he's shutting down he might be very depressed about this. IDK can you afford another visit, to see him and talk in person, to seriously look into all of the possibilities?

The possibility of depression is what jumped out at me after reading that he often says "I don't know."



Calixta, does your boyfriend have ADHD? You didn't actually say that he does.

If so, does he take any meds, see a therapist? Those are the things with the best track record in helping people with ADHD.

Calixta
10-27-16, 12:47 PM
Thank you all for your input so far. You've all helped me put into words for what I've been feeling for a long time.

Note, it's complicated to get a work visa for the states. (I've looked into this issue extensively, at work, for someone). you need a solid case and it's lots of paperwork.
i'm wondering if it might be easier for a US citizen, to work in NZ (i mean to get the necesary paperwork) because i know it's relatively easy to work in Australia.
but then what are the actual job opportunities, and what kind of job do you want?

If he's shutting down he might be very depressed about this. IDK can you afford another visit, to see him and talk in person, to seriously look into all of the possibilities?

The possibility of depression is what jumped out at me after reading that he often says "I don't know."



Calixta, does your boyfriend have ADHD? You didn't actually say that he does.

If so, does he take any meds, see a therapist? Those are the things with the best track record in helping people with ADHD.

stef, one of the bigger reasons we've discussed me moving to New Zealand is because of the visa situation. My degrees are in engineering so it would be relatively easy for me to get a sponsored visa to live abroad based on my profession.

stef and Lunacie, we both have ADHD and I've been diagnosed with depression and anxiety in addition to that so I've noticed the signs of depression in his situation. I've pointed out the potential symptoms that I've noticed and he's agreed that depression could be a very real possibility and he's expressed interested in getting professional help. Unfortunately, since he doesn't have any form of income and hasn't gotten his driver's license yet he has to rely on his family for support and any time he expresses his concerns to his family they tell him that he's just "looking for attention" and that he "needs to go outside more" instead of helping him get the help he's looking for. It seems like he's stuck in a vicious cycle.

Thinking back to when I was deeply struggling with life, I really do see a lot of myself in him and I know what a huge difference having a support system can make. Just having someone there that says they believe what you are saying and how you're feeling can be a huge weight off your shoulders. That's a big reason that it's so difficult for me to pull the trigger and walk away, not only is he my boyfriend but he's also my best friend and I don't feel right abandoning him.



My advice would be to put down markers..... eg... I am not joining you until you have your own place..... you don't need to set a deadline.... just make it plain that his ability to motivate himself toward a relationship goal is important to you and your commitment to the relationship.

So, are we supposed to keep up this long distance relationship until he figures things out or should we part ways until then? I'm apprehensive about staying because it feels like I'm being forced to put my life on hold. I want to start my career and establish myself in a new city and make new friends and settle down. I feel selfish thinking like that but he's young and has all the time in the world to figure things out, but I'm scared that it might not ever happen and by the time I realize that it's not going to happen then I'll be well into my thirties behind on all the things I've wanted to accomplish in my life. (There is nothing wrong with starting things in the thirties, but it's not how I've imagined my life going)

Having just graduated grad school this summer, I guess I'm more at a crossroads in my life where I'm questioning the direction that I want to take. Do I want to follow my ambitions and my dreams? Or do I want to give up some of my goals to stay behind and help him while carving out new ambitions? It's a tough choice and one feels remarkably more selfish and I feel guilty for even considering not being there for someone in need. I just don't know.

sarahsweets
10-27-16, 01:05 PM
Unfortunately, since he doesn't have any form of income and hasn't gotten his driver's license yet he has to rely on his family for support and any time he expresses his concerns to his family they tell him that he's just "looking for attention" and that he "needs to go outside more" instead of helping him get the help he's looking for. It seems like he's stuck in a vicious cycle.
Re-read the bolded parts: Hey doesnt live on his own, has no job, no income and not even a driver's license?? Who do you think will be paying for everything, driving everywhere and securing housing? Do you want to pay for your boyfriend who is too impaired to get a job or too comfortable not having one?

Thinking back to when I was deeply struggling with life, I really do see a lot of myself in him and I know what a huge difference having a support system can make. Just having someone there that says they believe what you are saying and how you're feeling can be a huge weight off your shoulders. That's a big reason that it's so difficult for me to pull the trigger and walk away, not only is he my boyfriend but he's also my best friend and I don't feel right abandoning him.

It wouldnt be abandonment- it would be making him responsible for his own life and an active participant. It would be you setting non-negotiable, healthy boundaries.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 02:33 PM
Walking away is not pulling a trigger. When you call it pulling the trigger, it vastly over-dramatizes the situation, and drama is not what you need right now.

There are lots of ways to arrange a relationship between two people, but in every case it's necessary to know how everyone's basic needs (i.e. housing and food) will be taken care of. You can cooperate to get those, or one of you can get those while the other person does something else - but if housing and food are neglected, everything else becomes so difficult that it's pretty much impossible.

kilted_scotsman
10-27-16, 05:21 PM
I want to start my career and establish myself in a new city and make new friends and settle down. I feel selfish thinking like that

If you feel it is time for you to start your career and establish yourself in a new city and enjoy making new friends then go and do it... sometimes these sorts of relationships become excuses for not striking out into the anxiety provoking unknown, even though deep down we know that's what we need to do.

It is NOT selfish to think like that...... one of the key things in ADDery relationships is to maintain appropriate boundaries and not get sucked into "rescuing" or giving away power..... this produces toxic resentment which blows the relationship apart..... years are wasted on both sides.

are we supposed to keep up this long distance relationship until he figures things out or should we part ways until then? I'm apprehensive about staying because it feels like I'm being forced to put my life on hold.

Dpn't put your life on hold waiting for someone to do something unless it's very clear there's appropriate action being undertaken with a likelihood of success..... go off and live your own life.......

It's worth noting that many of the posts on here are from ADDers who are giving strong advice about setting boundaries and not rescuing..... that is significant..... we are telling you what we need in a relationship......... our difficulties taken into consideration but we need to be held to account for our actions...... that helps us grow....

If you have ADHD, anxiety and depression then it might be an idea to go and get a bit of personal therapy yourself..... to explore why you feel so drawn towards a guy who lives with his parents and can't get a driving licence....... there's TWO sides to every story.

dvdnvwls
10-27-16, 05:32 PM
Can I put this a different way?

If you try to rescue me, I will joyfully accept - joyfully, and completely, and permanently. I would be happy to be your responsibility forever. That's a flaw of mine. I'm not sure how to fix it, but I know it's there.