Investing Too Much in Your Relationship? Moving On When It's Unhealthy - Relationship Advice

Dear Veronica,

I received this comment from chrissy on my hub When Your Girl Wants to Get Married and You Don't.

I have been with my bf for 16 years. I am 34, he is 35, and we own a house together for 10 years. 3 years ago, after the death of his mother, I found out that he was cheating on me with a co-worker. We tried to work things out, and he eventually moved out. After 3 months, we reconciled and he moved back in. Marriage was never a big deal to me before he cheated, but after we got back together, it became a pressing issue for me. I guess that before I didn't "need" to get married bc I was confident in our relationship the way it was, but since he cheated on me, I do feel that I need that commitment. I know that marriage is not a guarantee of fidelity, but this is how I feel. I have spoken with him about my feelings, but he still has not asked me to marry him. He will make comments about "someday when we are married and have kids", but that is all. I have invested so much time in this relationship, we own our home(which he does not want to sell), and he is the love of my life. I don't want to be with anyone else, but I don't think that I can be happy with him if he won't make that commitment to me, esp since he knows how important it is to me. It makes me feel sad that I am good enough to be with for all these years and build a life with, but that I am not good enough to make his wife. Our relationship is good otherwise-at least I think so, I thought that before and I was apparently wrong. I just don't know what to do anymore, I will not be happy without him in my life, but I am not happy just being his girlfriend either.

-chrissy

Dear chrissy,

I realize you are looking for a specific type of advice. And I've written many Hubs explaining why he has no reason to marry you, when you've given him everything he could get from marriage: living with him, buying a home with him, being there night after night even though you aren't getting what you've asked for. You're proving to him all the time that he doesn't have to honor your requests. You're reinforcing every day with all these choices that he never has to marry you, and you aren't going anywhere.

I could reiterate these things, and break it down for you. But your words are haunting, and they concern me. "I will not be happy without him in my life," shows such a loss of self, and self respect. To actually believe that you can not have a happy life without this man is a major red flag of a serious problem. And my advice is to get out.

On your behalf, I can see the pattern here that emerged. I can understand moving in together without having the whole 'what will the futures bring' conversation because you weren't really concerned about marriage. I can see being trusting enough to buy a home with a boyfriend when you don't know better to protect yourself financially. I can see all the steps that lead you rather blissfully into the place you were in.

And then you found out he cheated.

His cheating changed everything. And if you really think about it honestly, I bet it is also what changed your investment, view and perception of this relationship. This is where it all went wrong. This is where you changed.

His betrayal of you has made you different. While many people wouldn't have gotten past it, you chose to forgive him, but wanted to step up the relationship into a marriage as a way for him to prove to you that he was truly sorry, and totally committed to you.

I hope you'll read that paragraph a couple of times and realize what you've done there. While with tight blinders on, staring straight forward and not taking in all of the very major significant things that are going on all around you, this may seem like a logical approach. It just isn't very realistic. It makes perfect sense in my heart, too. But my brain is saying, no fucking way.

There is something that you need to look at with open eyes. If he was even half as into this relationship as you are, he would have leapt on the chance to redeem himself, atone for his mistake, and marry you to solidify your future together forever. He did not do that. I have no idea how to make it clearer than he already has.

You're at an age where you should be very sure about what you want in life. In your mid 30's you truly come to full fruition. You should have your career fairly well focused, you should have a good grasp of what you want out of relationships and life. Your judgment with this relationship doesn't sound at all grounded. I think that's because you've been with him for so long.

Almost half your life you've been with this one person. I believe this is feeding into your dependent thinking, that all your happiness must be gained through him, that you can't be happy on your own. If you've really only been with this guy since you were 18 years old and he since he's 19, that to me is the basis of a lot of things, from why you can't even see that you need to make your own happiness in life, or why he cheated.

You've never been single as a woman. You've never as a grown up lived life on your own, made your own happiness and future, built your self esteem and empowered yourself. Neither of you has ever sewn any wild oats, played the field, looked around and experienced different things, people, and opportunities. Without your giving me a ton of details on his affair (the one you know about), I can still say I think I completely understand why he did it. And I completely understand why he isn't leaping to get married. The death of his mother surely kicked his reality in. He is seeing life clearer.

Chrissy, even if you two really do love each other, and that you've worked through all the very many issues and complexities of having never grown as single maturing adults, he's demonstrating clearly that you aren't going to get what you want. "...he is the love of my life. I don't want to be with anyone else, but I don't think that I can be happy with him if he won't make that commitment to me," Even if I step away from the unhealthiness I'm feeling from you, I'm seeing that he isn't making that commitment that you are focused on having. 

I absolutely do not think you should try to be happy just being his girlfriend. Clearly that ship has sailed. In this very unique and troubled situation, I believe you need to focus on what you said right there - you can't be happy if he won't make that commitment. He's not making the commitment. Therefore, you aren't going to find happiness there. Let it go.

You need to believe in yourself, in your right to be happy, and in your ability to create your own happiness independent of others. I wish you the best on your journey.

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Comments 20 comments

chrissy 6 years ago

You are absolutely right that I lost myself and that I changed after he cheated. Unfortunately that is what infidelity does to you. I know that I am beautiful, intelligent, have a great career, and that I am a good kind person-but when your whole world is rocked by infidelity, none of that really matters anymore. When I said that "I will not be happy without him in my life," that does not mean that I can not have a happy life without him. I just know from the 3 month period that we were not together that I was not happy without him there. I went out with friends, I met other guys, but I did not enjoy that lifestyle and I know that is not what I want. I really have no desire to be with anyone else. Period. It is true that I have spent most of my adult life with him, but there are other people out there that find each other at a young age and that is the person they spend their life with. Losing him, I lose my lover, best friend, and family. I do believe he is sorry for cheating, but I will never understand why he did it. There is never any good reason to cheat. Ever. As far as the death of his mother, I do believe that to be the spark that set the fire for him to cheat, so to speak, but I dont think it "kicked his reality in" in the way that you are talking about. He and his mother had a very volatile relationship, she cheated on his father and left both of them to be with her lover when he was 5 years old. He never did make amends with her before she died, although I did try to get them to talk beforehand(she was diagnosed with cancer and we knew it was only a matter of time). We really are each others family, married or not. Both of his parents have passed, he has no siblings, and no aunts, uncles, cousins that he has contact with. I also have no siblings or extended family, only my mother who lives 3000 miles away. Maybe this is what drew us together in the first place. I know that it may sound a bit crazy, he cheats on me so I want to get married, but believe me, I am not the only woman out there who was cheated on that feels that way. It's impossible to go back to the way things were before he cheated,obviously something NEEDS to change-I mean why would I WANT to go back to how things were if he cheated on me under those circumstances in the first place?!? Well, if anything, I guess maybe this is less about me wanting to get married and more about my need for some type of reassurance. Unfortunately, that is the permenant scar that infidelity leaves on a person.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 6 years ago

Blessings to you Veronica and Chrissy!!

I left a really long reponse this morning supporting Veronica's advice and it disappeared!!??

Blessings always, Earth Angel!!


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Noo!!!!! :(

Oh Earth Angel, I hate it when that happens. I so love your comments. Where the hell did it go?? I just checked spam, checked unmoderated.... I'm so bummed!


DevinCo 6 years ago

Infidelity affects everyone differently. You don't know how to get over it until you've been through it. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, it can hurt for a very long time. People keep hurting each other, no matter what you promise each other in the beginning. Sad.


Chrissy 6 years ago

Devinco-so true about infidelity! Unless you've lived through it, you couldn't possibly understand how deeply it affects everything about a person. It truly affects every aspect of my life, from every decision I make, to every relationship I have. And no matter how much you think you are over it, there are lingering effects for years afterwards. Whether I am with him or not is of no matter, bc it is not about him. It is about ME, and how I have changed bc of it. If I could give people one piece of advice, it would be to NEVER cheat on their partner. If you really want to be with someone else, then just break it off with them. Betrayal and its aftermath are horrific. Words cannot even describe the hurt, anger, and sadness that consume a person.


dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from Camarillo, CA

great advice and especially about the fact that living together does not lead to marriage quite the opposite, it usually leads to no marriage. You had some excellent points in this article.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thank you dawnM!


rednektak 6 years ago

I appreciate everyone's comments on this article/issue! I was fortunate enough to have lived on my own as a single woman for 20 years before my first marriage. During that time, I never lived with a guy - I wouldn't until I got married. I also got my college degree and developed a career in which I still work. I got to know who I am and what really makes me happy. I've also learned that when it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck!

I've been married for seven years now and am filing for divorce. He's cheated on me - not physically that I know for sure, but definitely emotionally and intimately friendly with another woman. This began after just a couple years of marriage. We went to counseling, etc. but he has never taken accountability for the insecurity, distrust, or hurt he has caused to me.

My advice is........... move on sister!! There are way too many guys out there that would love and appreciate you for who you are! AND you have a lot of life to live yet - don't let him hold you back!!! I'm just sorry that I'm having to start over again at 50!


Chrissy 6 years ago

Well, I just wanted to come back and give you an update. I have decided to move out. I love him a lot, but he obviously does not love me the same, or we would be married already. Although I want to be with him, I cannot be happy unless he is 100% committed to me-and I guess his actions have proved otherwise. I signed the lease on my new place and I am moving in 2 weeks. Honestly, I am pretty scared about leaving and having to start my life over, and I think I will miss him terribly, but I don't see him begging me to stay either so I guess that says a lot. He just keeps saying that he doesn't understand why I am leaving, and that this is all my doing. The way I see it, he is the one that cheated and won't marry me, so it is his doing not mine. He said to me "can't you just stay here and be happy with the way things are?". My answer was no I can't. I have been truly amazed at the amount of support I have been getting from my family and friends. I guess that since I have been with him so long, it is just hard for me to imagine me having a life without him. Well girls(and guys), wish me luck. It took everything in me to get the courage to leave. I still don't know if I am making the right decision, but at least I am doing SOMETHING because I am not happy with the way things are.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Chrissy,

His saying this is all your doing is like a 6 year old saying, "It's your fault I broke that lamp because you put it there!" in a tantrum. That kind of lashing out should really seal the deal for you that you are making the right decision. Not only is he not begging you to say, he's not even owning what he did and taking responsibility and blame. He's finger pointing and acting like a child. Fuck that. You are STRONG and beautiful and I am so happy to hear you are moving on. Good luck. Best to you. You can do it!! This is the beginning of the BEST part of your life!


Lindsey 6 years ago

Chrissy,

You're definitely doing the right thing. Don't doubt it for a minute. I know it's really, really hard, but in the long run, you'll be so proud of yourself and be able to look back on this decision with absolute certainty that this was the right thing.

As Veronica often says, you have to close one door so another one can open. I know it's scary not knowing what that next door will be and it's scary to walk away from what's familiar and comfortable, but you deserve to be loved by someone as much as you love them. And now you can welcome that sort of love into your life. No more half-love, no more weak love, no more twisted, withered versions of love. But something as full and robust and big-hearted as you are. Please keep us updated. Best of luck to you and much love!!!


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thanks Lindsey!

You're so right. I say that all the time - energy i a tangible thing. You can't expect new things to come to you until you clear the way by getting rid of some old things. You have to close one door so that a new one can open. Thanks so much for this comment.

xo


Chrissy 5 years ago

Well, here's the short term update. I moved 16 days ago to be exact. I no longer speak to my ex, after I moved out he told me "I left him with nothing and I don't want to be your friend". Oh, I'm sorry was I supposed to leave EVERYTHING I worked for and leave with the clothes on my back?? Honestly I am completely fine w us not speaking, as far as I'm concerned there is nothing left to say at this point anyways. I can say that I feel better than I have in years(since he cheated on me to be exact), it is like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I am actually surprised that I do not miss him at all or even think of him much for that matter. I have adjusted to being alone amazingly easily and I have been really trying to put myself out there and meet new ppl. Actually, I have gone on 3 dates with a guy I met just a week after I moved. I'm not really expecting anything out of it, which I think is really the key. With no expectations, I can just enjoy his company and have fun. Its good to be with someone who can make me laugh again. It is so true that when one door closes another opens, and even though leaving was VERY hard, I have no regrets at all and for the first time in a very long time I actually feel hopeful about the future.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 5 years ago from NY Author

Chrissy,

I hope that's really you. It's a different IP addy then you've been posting from, but you did say you moved out, so that would make sense. I really hope it's you, because I LOVE that you have no regrets and that you feel hopeful for the future. This comment, although obviously filled with emotion and some bitterness, is so very healthy. It was written by a strong woman who "surprises" herself at how great things can be when she values herself. You're even dating. I'm so very happy for you. Enjoy this time alone, take your time, grow yourself. You will be amazed at the caliber of men you will attract from this strong space.

Thanks for keeping us posted.

Namaste.


Lindsey 5 years ago

Congratulations, Chrissy! You're so courageous; I know it was a big step to move out and break things off with your cheating ex. Good for you! I completely agree with your earlier comments about how disastrous cheating can be for those cheated upon. I've been there and had a very similar reaction that you did. It utterly devastated me and the after effects lingered far longer after the break-up (a clean, honorable break would have been so much easier to mourn). Shoot, I have still have trust issues that I'm working through from such a deep betrayal (and for me, it's been nearly 3 years). The part that angered me the most was how much it screwed with my sense of self and judgment (if I'd been so wrong about him/us, who knows what else I was/am wrong about?)---it took me the longest to learn to trust myself and my judgment again.

Just remember, the cheating isn't a reflection of you; it's a reflection on him. I realize that no one is blameless in a relationship and I'm sure you contributed to some issues that lead to unhappiness in the relationship (I know I did), but it was his choice to react to those issues with betrayal and cheating. He could have talked to you about those issues or just broke up if he felt that was futile or too hard to do. Instead, he chose the coward's route --- cheating. You didn't drive him to cheat; he chose to do that all on his own. So, if you're harboring any feelings of guilt or inadequacy as a result, try to let them go --- let them go back to who the belong to: your ex.

I know it's easier said than done, but that's been my journey so far and I'm hoping it may help you on yours as well.


Chrissy 5 years ago

Yep Veronica, it's me. Yes, there is a lot of emotion still there, both good and bad, that is why I think it's better that there is no contact between me and him. I actually think I am a lot less bitter now that I left then I was when I was with him.

Lindsey, I definitely agree with the not being able to trust myself and my judgement-that is me 100 percent. I guess that is why I say that I don't really expect anything to come out me dating. But at least I am enjoying being with someone again, that is a big step for me. I don't have any feelings of guilt or inadequacy, I know that cheating was bc of his shortcomings, not mine. Thanks for your advice though, you can't understand what cheating does unless you've lived through it yourself.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 5 years ago from NY Author

I'm glad to hear that Chrissy. I know this is hard, but you know this was the right thing to do. When you look back you'll see this as one of the strongest moments of your life.


janellelk 5 years ago

Ugh, this sounds like such a painful situation. I just had to say my heart goes out to the woman involved in this situation. People take other people for granted and until they demand their requests to be met are things finally able to change. Thanks so much, again. Lol, today has been kind of a tough one!


Veronica profile image

Veronica 5 years ago from NY Author

Janellelk; thanks for all your comments today. I am sorry you are having a rough time. Sometimes it helps just to know you aren't alone. Lots of people go through these things. Even though each has its own nuance they all still relate in a rather bonding way. Good luck to you as you grow, learn, and love. Namaste.


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Lots of interesting and properly informatory article which am so pleased to come across. Thanks and a big cheers to you Veronica for sharing this article.

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