Posted by: Mandy | 2009-07-23

It feels like a divorce

I have to say that having been in a long-term relationship that it feels like a marriage except that we don' t have kids. Before I pose my question I' d like to say that some of us live together for years, accumulate possessions and memories and although we never married as such we have many of the same issues. Splitting up is just like a divorce and it does not hurt less whether you are married, gay (I' m not) or whatever. How come there is not a support group called Support for Break-Ups?

My boyfriend and I (I'  m 43 he'  s 46) broke up after 10 years. When we first met we moved in together almost immediately and were very happy. We broke up as the relationship had run its romantic course and because his biz collapsed and my family drained my finances. My mom said that when poverty flies in the front door love usually flies out the back door. He expected to move out. I knew that he couldn'  t. He is self-employed and had no income. I said well move into the spare room and we take it from there. It was not easy (6 months have past) and my mother lives with us. We have now settled into a comfortable friendship, chat easily, live together and we keep the household going. His work is picking up again. We both wish we could work things out, but logically we just know it can'  t work out. He says no new man in my life is going to stand for this. I say if a new man dictates to me about that I won'  t accept it. To me it is controlling and he has nothing to fear as we really are just friends. But we agreed no new boyfriends or girlfriends in the house at least not for a very long time. Neither of us is seeing anyone. I am sad (so is he) but he is like the brother I never had. Is this completely abnormal and would it be completely unacceptable to expect a new man to accept this? I never was keen on marriage but now I would want that in a new relationship also after a time with the right person so I do not see us all co-habitating if you get my meaning. I am not sure how a new woman in his life would feel. We do care about each other, we love each other but the passion died about 2 years ago already. It was platonic then. The situation works out very well as it is. This home is rented in my name as we did not buy together. I have other savings. He is foreign and could also go back to his country any time as he says. I will survive without his financial input. It was just less hurtful to break up like this (we almost healed each other). I just wonder if one of us does meet someone else or one moves out if there is going to be a backlash of emotions? He is planning to move out when he can. We meet for coffee, go to a movie but for the most part we do our own thing. What do you think? I think that we are not separated and I worry so much about myself and him (I am stronger in that I " walked away"  and broke it off and believe I can be happy again. He is more fragile in that he says he won' t get over me, he will never be interested in another woman again as the one he wants " is sitting right next to him"  but that he wants me to be happy. He was married before (and he does have 2 teenage kids), he hates his ex-wife and always did.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDivorce support expert

Hi Mandy,

thanks for sharing your story.
First of all you are absolutely right about the Divorce/Break up issue. A divorce is just a legal ending to a legal commitment(marriage) and breaking up from any relationship, married or un-married, has the same emotional implications.

You ask yourself quite a few "what if" questions.
My straight forward advice, is to keep figuring it out as you have done and are dong it.
You have naturally evolved into a situation which serves both of you and however unusual it may be, it suits you. The day something else will need to happen or someone else will come into your lives, your situation will again naturally evolve and change in the manner that will be suiting all the party concerned.
You have dealt maturely with your situation until now, trust that this will happen when new plans will need to be made. You obviously respect each other in the separate directions you have both chosen while cherishing a lasting friendship. When the time comes, you will know what will be right for everyone.

I wish you all the best.

Love and Gratitude
SADSA | The South African Divorce Support Association

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