The Luv Doc: Break It Off Easy
Who gets the cat and the flat-screen?
Dear Luv Doc,
So my boyfriend and I have been together almost eight years. Yes, I said boyfriend. For the first four years or so, I wanted to marry him. I wanted to spend my life with him and all of our big dreams. Then I graduated college, and when it came time to get out and do things, I found out he was just full of plans and no will to actually travel or experience events. He just wants the same two friends and his computer. When we moved to Austin two years ago, he promised now that we are in a city, we would go on dates and go to shows and, well, you get it. He doesn't want to go out with me but he doesn't like me going out alone because it's "more dangerous than I think." I'm not sure he understands that I am a grown woman. I love him in a sense that he means a great deal to me and he is a great guy, but I don't want to be with him anymore. How do I break up with someone who I have been with for eight years and have all of our finances together? How do you decide on this and how do I do it and not lose everyone? I love his family and don't want to lose my niece and nephew over this, but I can't stay with someone who is no more than a roommate when I don't want to be there anymore. How do I break it off easy after so long?
How do you break it off easy with someone you have been with for eight years? Fuck if I know. That sounds like some really ugly business – even before you get the permanent stink eye from the niece and nephew. You might have taken them on a thousand trips to Chuck E. Cheese's over the last eight years, but once they find out you broke Uncle Laptop's heart, it's game over. Not even a trash bag full of prize tickets is going to win back their love.
The finances are going to be a bit of a sticky wicket, as well. Not being married means that you'll lack statutory legal recourse. Basically, it's going to be a free-for-all if things don't end amicably. You could try to claim common-law marriage, but doing that in the state of Texas requires that you represented yourselves to others as being married. My guess is at the very least your husband's two friends know that to be complete bullshit, so you might want to get some ducks in a row before you drop the bomb on bae.
Figure out if you can handle the entire lease/mortgage on your own. In this burg that might mean getting an equally insolvent roomie. You might also try to figure out some other things, like whether you will still have health insurance, and who gets the cat and the flat-screen TV. Expect it to be heartbreaking – and I am not just talking about your credit rating going down the shitter.
Lastly, you can probably count on some serious emotional damage. Nobody likes to find out that they're the giant hole in the sinking boat of a relationship. Inevitably there will be attempts at patching up. You could try some counseling (what else were you going to do with that money?) but it sounds like in your case, the odds of a Hail Mary save are not in your favor. You're going to have to slog through that swamp of raw emotion for – and I think I'm being generous here – a couple of years before you come out on the other side.
Sounds completely daunting, doesn't it? However, here's how I think you decide: You decide that you're willing to pay that toll for a chance at the life you truly want to live. You decide that accepting the way things are out of a fear of imagined negative outcomes is not a healthy way to go through life. And yes, you will lose friends, but were they really your friends? True friends will support both you and your boyfriend's efforts to find happiness.