Dear Thelma: I want to break up, she wants marriage

Dear Thelma: I want to break up, she wants marriage
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

I have known my girlfriend for seven years but we only started dating almost three years ago. This has been the worst year in our relationship - we have had many fights that have made me consider ending it with her.

The disruption in my relationship has not been caused by a third party or cheating - it's because of our personalities.

Last year, we fought and I said I wanted to break up with her but she begged me to stay. Since we were having so many conflicts - and they were due to us not heeding to (sic) each other - I told her that if she wanted to be with me, it had to be on my terms. I thought that was one way to avoid fights.

I also told her that she was always free to leave as no one was forcing her to stay, but she agreed and stayed.

But as time passed, she went back on what she agreed upon and we started having so many fights and arguments.

As I write to you, we are in a fight for a very silly reason. I am fed up with her because little things lead to big issues, for example, what I am going to do to make a better life for the both of us.

She says she wants to be with me and get married. If things remain the way they are now, I don't know where we are headed. And if we get married, things will be bad for her. I don't want that to happen. I am saying I don't want this to go on, but she's not letting me go.

I'm in a state of uncertainty about my future. What should I do to make things right? I am so confused.

Right now, she seems fine with the way things are but I don't think she understands the consequences of what's happening.

I really hope that you can help me Thelma. Should I let this relationship go or remain and fix things? -The Riddled Boy

You were friends for almost five years before entering a relationship. Usually, that's a very good sign because it means you have plenty in common.

For couples who fall out of romantic love, that initial com­panionship can become the basis for future happiness.

On the flip side, if you had a more superficial friendship, one where you didn't truly know each other, then it's not to be relied upon. I think your first step therefore is to see in general terms how compatible you are by examining those first five years. How was that first friendship? Were you rock solid best buds? Or simply people who just said hi to each other? If you were close, is that feeling still buried under all the present dismay?

Out of an almost three-year romantic relationship, you've spent a year having an awful time. Frankly, that makes my heart sink. It argues that you were okay at the start when you were in romantic love but once reality set in, you found more differences than agreements. Also, you say you don't get along because your personalities clash: as people don't change very much, that is unlikely to ever change.

As a basic rule of thumb, I'd say if your initial friendship was not too solid, then given that you really don't get along now, your chances for future happiness seem rather slim. You've already tried to call it off, and that tells me you're not very invested.

If this is so, then my advice would be that it's bad strategy to make one relationship error a permanent one. Talk to your girlfriend in a kind, sensible manner and point out that a life of fighting is a misery.

If your initial friendship was not too solid, and you really don't get along now, your chances for future happiness are slim.

From what you say, your girlfriend is also unhappy but she has not been able to walk away. I can't tell from your letter what kind of person she is, but one common feature of human behaviour is that the more we invest in a relationship or idea, the more we become attached to it.

If she's stuck on this, you might suggest that she talk through her feelings with a therapist. Even if she doesn't want to do that, she'll need a good support network to get her through the break-up and into a healthy space beyond. You know her family and friends, so make sure they are there for her when you walk away.

Now, if your original friendship was solid, and you feel you may regret ending it, then I think you should both talk to someone who can help you figure out the basis of your arguments.

If your quarrels come from fundamental disagreements on the roles you both play in your relationship, and what you want out of your lives in terms of kids, career, finance and so on, then you'll know you're not made to be marriage partners.

However, you say at one point that your arguments are "very silly". You also say that both of you are "not heeding to each other". There is therefore a chance that you have some issues with communication technique. If that is all there is to your fights, then learning to discuss your needs better might solve your differences.

Finally, I think you should get to the bottom of this problem sooner rather than later, purely because it's already taken up years of your lives. The faster you both figure out whether you're suited or not, the better.

I hope this helps you on the path to coming to a resolution that allows you to find happiness. I'll be thinking of you both.

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