One of our gorgeous readers, who has chosen to call herself "In Between", is desperately trying to find the courage to leave a relationship that she knows isn't right for her.
Here's her email:
I am a follower of yours and I have benefited tremendously from all your emails.
I am 25 years old and am in a situation. My boyfriend and best friend of about 4 years broke up with me and said that he had met someone else who he saw himself with. I had broken up with him before then we got back together, we have been best friends since we were in our late teens and we know each other so well.
I know I hurt him before when I broke up with him so I knew somehow that he did this to get revenge somehow, which did not work out so good for him because after two months, he was back on his knees saying he did not know what he was doing at the time and that he listened to some people who only wanted to break us apart and he only realized afterwards.
The only problem is, I had forgiven him quite alright, I broke contact with him and was now seeing someone else.
A very wonderful guy, he is not perfect but he is good and it’s a long distance relationship so it has its challenges but we get along quite well though he has some trust issues sometimes which make me a bit uncomfortable.
The thing is, ever since my ex apologized and said he will respect the fact that I am in a relationship but he won't stop fighting for me and our love, I realized I do still love him too a lot.
The question really isn’t what should I do, it's more of how do I tell this other guy that I can’t be with him? And not only because of my ex coming back to apologize and all, I think I have learned my lesson with jumping into a relationship without completely healing, but because I know he's wrong for me.
I have a history of dating guys who are broken in some way and I feel I can fix them somehow which only hurts me and makes me unhappy in the end because I give and never receive.
I am a Christian so they are things that I believe and when I saw the potential in this guy I thought I could help him to get to where I am in my Christianity but what was I thinking, I can't change a man.
We are at different places, he tries but the more I believe in him, the more I get hurt when he does things that are not in line with my beliefs. I know he loves me and I care for him deeply, his family knows and loves me too, my family is getting used to the idea that there is him but I know if I stay we will both get hurt.
So how do I leave this guy without causing so much damage?
I swore I would never hurt another person after the pain I felt when my ex left me. And he is the type that turns to alcohol when going through stuff, I am worried I might destroy him and I don't want that guilt following me but I know if he really wants to be a better person I need to get out of the way otherwise I feel like he pretends for me because he really wants to marry a good girl but he is not ready to give up certain habits and commit to a relationship with God, he sort of expects me to do that for him and that’s not right.
I have told him before and he said he was sorry and would work harder but I can't help but feel guilty because what if he is just not there yet?
No one deserves to be in a relationship like this but what if he truly loves me and I do some permanent damage by breaking up with him and I know the family would blame me for rest of my life so please help me, how do I get out of this mess without him or anyone being hurt so badly.
I would rather be the one that gets hurt.
Dear In Between,
First of all, thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you found your way here and I’m happy to hear you’re benefiting so much from my emails.
I chose your email to answer today because there’s a common theme that comes through in so many of the emails I receive, and it’s what I sense is underlying what you’re asking for here in yours.
How do I not feel pain, how do I keep someone else from feeling pain, how do I gracefully enter and then exit without taking part in the guilt that often goes along with these anything but graceful exits, and how do I keep everything together, harmonious, without any fallout?
The answer, In Between, is that you can’t control things the way you so want to. That’s what’s underneath.
We want to control as much as we want to deny that we do.
We’re not supposed to want to control things, we’re not supposed to have that need. But we do. And beating ourselves up over what’s underneath inside us doesn’t help us at all.
You say you have a pattern of attracting guys who need fixing, who show so much potential for being fixable, and then only end up leaving you heartbroken in the end. This is the outcome of giving and giving until it hurts, receiving so little in return.
You can’t live like this and not get hurt, and not have regrets, and not feel guilty. Living so selflessly when deep down you know you deserve more, can’t help but catch up with you.
But the bigger picture, In Between, is that you can’t control anyone else’s path. You can’t know what someone needs and what someone doesn’t. You can’t know what’s best for them.
My advice is to be honest. With yourself and also with him.
You can tell him you’re on two different pages and you’re realizing this isn’t working out the way you hoped it would. You can take full responsibility for your part in the relationship and let him know you jumped in too soon before you had fully healed from your last relationship.
But regardless of what you say and how you say it, he’s going to have his own response that’s all his and not yours or anything you can predict or try to control.
Be real. Be honest. Be yourself. Be authentic.
That’s all anyone can ask for from someone who’s ending a relationship with them, even though we can expect so much more. Do what you need to do to protect yourself if you’re at all concerned about your personal safety. That’s a whole different issue and something that needs to be taken very seriously if that’s a real concern.
There’s so much more behind this that I hope you’ll be open to seeing.
The part of you that gets involved with men like this in the first place. The part of you that’s attracted to this type of man. The part of you that wants to fix someone like this.
And then gives and gives and gives with so little back in return, and tries to convince yourself that it’s somehow the right thing to do.
It only leads to resentment and self-hatred and loathing and all kinds of other things that take away our self-esteem, and leave us feeling guilty and regretful in the end.
You’re worth so much more than this, In Between. You’re not here to save anyone or fix anyone or live anyone else’s life for them. That’s their job – and only if they choose to. This is what you need to do for you, instead.
Find your own beautiful life.
Become the beautiful, confident, radiant woman who’s been hiding behind this endless giving image for long enough.
You’re so much more than an image! You’re a real, authentic, unique human being! Don’t hide behind what you should be or what someone else has said you should be.
There’s so much more to life than living up to someone else’s expectations for you and being everything but what you inside were made to be. Find that part of you, regardless of whether it fits with the current image you’ve projecting to the world.
Only then can someone who’s truly right for you find you, In Between. You have to first meet your real self! You have to first become clear on who she is, on what she’s all about.
That kind of clarity is a force to be reckoned with!
It’s how the right ones find you and the wrong ones know not to come close. It’s how you shake this pattern of attracting fixer-uppers who never live up to the potential only you set for them, once and for all.
It’s not just the courage to leave that we need to find within ourselves when we’re with someone who isn’t right for us, it’s the courage to see beyond what we’re used to seeing in the stories of our own lives as well. You can do this, In Between. It’s your turn now.
Your time. Your turn. You’re more than worth whatever it takes to do that.
What about you? Do you have any other words of advice or encouragement for our beautiful friend In Between? Does this resonate with you? Tell us about it in the comments.