First, I'd like to thank you for having this column, am sure you hear it a lot in every letter you receive, but still, my upbringing instills that I express such gratitude. Enough about you, about me.
I have a dilemma I've been dealing with for the past couple years, hope you can provide a direction for me go, I'm truly lost at what I should do. Obviously, the right thing. I've been in a relationship with my current partner for about 13 years, and it's been great up til the past 3. That's when things started to really go downhill. Over that time, my anxiety is worse than it ever has been, and all he did was bury himself in his video games. I've turned to my furry friends for support, and they've been there a lot better than my partner, which I am so grateful for. The connection between me and my partner has practically gone to nothing, all because he's been playing those games. Meanwhile, I immerse myself into the fandom, where I have love and support, away from him. In that process, I cheated on my partner with others in this quest for affection. I think I'm finally finding the right person for me, but all of a sudden, my partner is either getting jealous of my time with my friends, now trying to make things work. I just feel it's too late for that, and I want to settle down with this new person, that I've found and started bonding with the past 9 months. My question to you is how can I break off this old relationship for this new one without offending my old partner.. I mean, am willing still to be friends, I just don't love anymore (or, shall I say, in love with him). I'm just so burned from the lack of respect from him, but I don’t want to hurt him either.. But then I didn't help my cause by cheating on him either. I just don’t want to be unhappy anymore. and don't want to be this way 15 years down the road.. what shall I do?
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You have a right to be happy, as does your mate. Reading your letter, it is clear that your mind is made up to break up with your current mate and have a go at your new relationship, so I wish you well in your new romantic endeavor, although I do have one question: could it be that your partner has a serious game addiction problem? And did you try and resolve it? Or is he just using games to avoid talking to you and being with you?
Because I don’t have that information, I will proceed by assuming he does not have a game addiction problem and the issue is your relationship.
The question currently on your plate, then, is how to politely break up with your current mate without hurting his feelings. It sounds like he is just now getting the idea that the two of you are on the skids and that is why he is acting jealously, which sounds to me like he really doesn’t want to lose you and his behavior over the last couple of years has been—most likely—symptomatic of his taking you for granted. So, this probably won’t be an easy break-up, as you yourself seem to realize.
You both are responsible for what is about to happen: he is because of how he has ignored you, and you are because you might not have tried enough to revive his feelings for you before cheating on him.
The best thing you can do in any break-up is be honest with your partner. Tell him exactly what you have told me, that you just feel the magic and love has gone out of your relationship and that you want to move on—as friends, if possible, but either way you now want to be with your new partner. You might ease his hurt somewhat by telling him how much he means to you still and how wonderful the first ten years have been, but you feel you have grown apart. Tell him you don’t really want to place blame on anyone and that he will always be special to you.
This can work. I know, because I did the same thing with my first partner with whom I had a twenty-one year relationship. Both of us grew a lot during that time—heck, we were just out of college when we married and were little more than kids. It was extremely painful to break up, but we were both different people (me more so than her, perhaps), and, after a couple of hard years, we remain good friends.
It’s wonderful that you are not bitter about this and that you want to have what I would call a very mature break-up. If you talk to him, being very mindful of the truth and of his feelings, there is a good chance you can remain friends, at least, and that is a very valuable thing to have.
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