Leaving a man you’ve loved for years isn’t just a physical move out of the house…it’s a painful emotional break. These tips on how to leave a man you love but can’t live with will help you decide if it’s time to say good-bye.
Before reading the tips, remember what Gloria Steinem said: “If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?” If your relationship doesn’t suit you, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to change! Sometimes the only thing you need to change is your circumstances. It’s hard to leave a man you’ve loved forever, but it is possible.
Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall can help you decide if you want to leave this man you’ve loved for years. Knowing if it’s time to go is a difficult decision, even in the most toxic relationships. This book will help you decide what’s a deal breaker – things you can’t live with – and what you can live with because you don’t want to leave the man you love.
How to Leave a Man You Love
Here are some suggestions for leaving a relationship that’s been over for years or months, motivated by a reader’s question on my article about surviving a marriage crisis.
Deal with the fear that you’ll never be loved again. I’ve been stuck in bad relationships because I was scared nobody else would love me. I didn’t realize that there are plenty of good men who would love to love me, and who would be good for me! My self-esteem and self-confidence was rock bottom, and it held me back from moving on to bigger and better men. To leave your bad boyfriend, you need to build self-confidence.
Get rid of guilty feelings for leaving the man you’ve loved for years. Sometimes, women stay in bad relationships because they feel guilty, or don’t want to leave their boyfriends or husbands in a bad financial, emotional, or social situation. This is misplaced guilt and faulty reasoning! Don’t let negative emotions like fear of what people will think, fear of criticism, or guilt and shame keep you chained to a bad relationship. If you feel like you can’t leave your husband, read How to Survive a Loveless Marriage.
Picture yourself a year from now. Where do you want to be living? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be loving – and who do you want loving you? Often, focusing on our goals – our wish list – can give us motivation and strength to do what we need to do…even if it involves letting go of someone we love.
Accept the help you need. Here’s a sobering thought from Gloria Steinem: “If women have young children, they are one man away from welfare.” But, accepting financial help from the government is far more preferable than staying in a bad relationship! When I was a kid, we were on welfare for most of my childhood – and my mom was single, free, and independent (well, as independent as you can be when you rely on the government for support).
Start asking questions. “God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions,” said Steinem. “Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” Asking questions opens up new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new ways of being in the world. Also, I recently learned that women respond to love in different ways than men, which makes it even more difficult to find the strength to leave a man you’ve loved forever. Is it possible that you can figure out how to leave a man you love but can’t live with by learning how he gives and receives love?
Questions to ask yourself about your life:
- Who am I now…and who do I want to become?
- If not now, when?
- Who do I admire?
- What did I want my life to be like when I was young, naïve, idealistic, passionate?
Questions to ask yourself about bad relationships and leaving men who aren’t good for you:
- What am I getting out of this relationship, which I know is bad for me?
- Who is watching me in this relationship – my kids, nieces, neighbors, family members, friends? What are they learning about me, about life?
- What would I do about this relationship if I knew I would not fail?
You don’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. Just sit with them, let them simmer in the back of your mind. One day, you’ll be ready to make a decision to be strong and leave your partner…or be strong in a different way, and stay.
Are you struggling to find the strength to leave a man you’ve loved for years? I encourage you to listen to your gut and your brain, and do what it takes to create a life that makes you happy and fulfilled.
For more tips on leaving a man you love, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
When He Says He Doesn’t Love You Anymore is another article I wrote on leaving a man you love, but can’t live with because he doesn’t want to be with you. It may help you let go and move on with your life.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.