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Ending a Relationship Is Never Easy

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I have been in a primary relationship for 14 years, and have been unhappy for most of this time. I stayed too long and know that neither of us was happy. Recently, my partner accepted a job in another state. I decided to not move with him. I want to end the relationship but am not sure how. I do not want to do it in person or on the phone because I know he will become angry and blame me for things not working. All I want is closure and to say goodbye. I would like to write a letter. Can you offer suggestions on how to say goodbye?



Dear Closure,

Ending a relationship is never easy. Since you have been unhappy for most of the 14 years and have decided to not move with him, your boyfriend should not be surprised at your wanting to end the relationship. If he has been unhappy during the relationship as well, he may welcome your taking the initiative to break up.

Unless you are afraid of being harmed, ending a relationship should be done in person the next time he's in town. You have been together a long time, and you should end the relationship in a cordial manner. Meet him in a public place, such as a restaurant, in order for him to contain his emotions if you think he´┐Żll become angry. Go ahead and write a letter first, but do not send him the letter, use it to gather your thoughts about what to say in person.

You might start out about how it may come as no surprise to him that this is a good time to stop seeing each other since you both live in different states. Make every effort to tell him positives, about himself and how the relationship has been beneficial. Avoid stating anything about future relationships such as he'll find someone else or he's free now and should be happy. Focus on the relationship that you shared with him. End the meeting by wishing him the best in his new job and location, and hope to remain friends.

Fourteen years is a long time to stay in an unhappy relationship. Even if ending the relationship is the right thing to do, it will be painful for both of you, there will be a great sense of loss, and feelings will be hurt. Keep in mind that regardless of who ends the relationship, it will take months, sometimes years, to recover. It's important to stay busy, try new hobbies and activities, and if necessary, see a counselor to help you cope.