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Ask Lisa: Better to be alone or feel alone together?

My partner & I have been living together for 14 years.  I ignored earlier instincts (red flags) and continued anyway.  Suggested we go for counseling to deal with anger, family of origin issues), & to learn/practice better communication. Counseling refused several times over the years.  I’m tired of emotional roller coaster & feeling emotionally unsafe… how do I bite the bullet and ask him to move out after 14 years? Guess I’m afraid to face the emotional fall-out that I must face, and there really is no way to avoid it. What are the steps to take to make it less traumatic for both of us? Or is that just not possible? Do I need to just take care of myself when it comes to “breaking up”?

Lisa’s thoughts…

There clearly have been problems from the start which isn’t necessarily impossible to overcome, especially if there is investment in the relationship by both parties.  My concern that despite this fact, he has repeatedly refused counseling.  I understand that 14 years is a long-term relationship and not easy to imagine life without.  But you yourself have said you are “tired of the emotional roller-coaster and feeling emotionally unsafe.”

If you’ve been very clear in your communication about these issues, how they have made you feel and what you’re willing and not willing to accept – then considering, “what next,” is perfectly valid.  You deserve to be in a kind, loving, supportive relationship.  Keep in mind I would never directly advise anyone to leave or stay as it’s a very personal decision.  But I would suggest you dig deep and reflect upon what you really want and if you see any chance of getting it where you are.

If you do choose the break-up route, know it will likely be difficult for both of you.  At the end of the day, do so in a way that you can have pride around.  Be as compassionate as is reasonable to him while staying focused on self-care.  There will likely be a grieving process around it – but the loss brings with it the hope that you eventually find a more secure attachment with a long term partner.

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Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with tools for emotional and relationship health and is the author of Therapy-At-Home Workbooks® for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers online therapy to residents of California.