Dear Barb—No Easy Break

Dear Barb:

Hi, I have been involved with this guy for the last five years.  Everything was good between us for the first year, but then it kind of went downhill.  We started arguing about everything and nothing, but we continued the relationship and even moved in together.  Initially everything was great but, in retrospect, I think that was the honeymoon phase.  Within a couple of months, we were at it again: disagreeing on everything and not being able to let things go.  I’m not claiming to be right all the time.  We are equally to blame for most situations.  After a year of living together, Jay decided to move out. 

I felt relieved to get a break from the fighting, but then I began to miss him.  Since we have many mutual friends, it was hard to keep a distance.  Following a party at a friend’s house and too much drinking we ended up at my place in bed together.  Things evolved and Jay moved back in.  Within a few weeks we were at it again, fighting and arguing.  I suggested counseling, but Jay was not interested.  I know this is a bad relationship, but I can’t seem to end it, and neither can Jay.  I really don’t know where to go from here.  There is something between us that is fairly strong, but we just can’t seem to get along.  Do you have any suggestions, besides counseling, since Jay refused to go?  Thanks Renee. 

Hi Renee:

Ending a relationship is always difficult, but it seems for you and your boyfriend it is particularly difficult.  There are many reasons why people cannot end unhealthy relationships, beginning with low self esteem.  Often individuals who have low self esteem stay in unhealthy relationships because they fear they will not find someone else and they do not want to be alone.  So it is essential to regain your confidence and begin to feel better about yourself.  Counselling may help you to learn skills to build yourself up again.  Obviously you both have feelings for each other, but often that is not enough.  When you have two strong willed people who are not willing to compromise, love will not be enough to fix the problems.

Couples counselling may be able to provide tips for you both to be able to react to each other in a healthy manner, rather than arguing and fighting.  Your childhood is also a big predictor in how you are going to react in a relationship.  If your parents’ way of resolving issues was to argue, that’s what you have learned.  On the other hand, if you grew up in a single parent home, you may not have learned how to work through normal problems that all relationships encounter.  The only option you both have at this point Renee, is to seek counseling.  If Jay won’t go, then you need to go yourself.  Best of luck in the future.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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