In which you list 200 reasons why the relationship needs to end NOW.

Yeah, I’m gonna blog about something that has nothing to do with Game of Thrones! Oh, boy!

There’s a new letter on Captain Awkward, and I’m gonna react to it line by line, because holy fuck.

Ready, everyone? Let’s go.

Dear Captain,

I’m in an extremely delicate situation that I don’t know how to navigate – I hope you can help me.

About a year and a half ago, I realized I was neither in love with nor physically attracted to my boyfriend any more, but being afraid I’d hurt him, I put off breaking up with him for another six months.

And the situation degraded from there, I take it?

By the time I mustered up the courage to talk to him about this, feelings had been hurt, he had got depressed and failed his thesis twice. He told me that I needed to stay in the relationship for another semester until he tries to graduate again, to undo the damage I had done, otherwise his life would be ruined.

NO NO NO NO, my dear, get out of there right now! If your breaking up with someone is enough to ruin their life, it’s still their responsibility to get their life together.

Knowing that I had made a terrible mistake by stringing him along, I agreed to it, but I now really wish I hadn’t, because the mess is bigger than ever.

So…get out now.

(Since I’m no longer attracted to him, sex feels bad and I turn cold whenever he touches me, which he is upset about and we argue all the time; I’m emotionally distant but he wants me to be loving and supportive, and while I’m nice and generally friendly towards him, it’s clearly not enough, etc.)

I have a feeling nothing you do will ever be enough, because this guy needs help you can’t give him, and that is not your responsibility.

The current situation is terrible for both of us, but especially for him – he’s going to fail his thesis again due to my insufficient support, he’s worse off emotionally because, as he said, “my life was fine until you entered it – now the train has gone off the rails and everyone on it is dead”.

So…he failed his thesis because you were about to break up with them, so you stayed and he failed his thesis again? Seems like he just doesn’t have his academic biz under control. He had no right to make that into your problem.

His is the only thing he’s good at carreer-wise, and now I’ve taken that away from him.


Had I known this was going to happen, I’d not have hesitated about the breakup.


I still care about him, and I don’t want his life ruined, but I don’t love him as a girlfriend any more, and I feel like pretending just hurts us.

Whether his life is “ruined” is not up to you. Get out now.

On the other hand, he insists I should stay and try harder.

OH SEVEN HELLS. He can “insist” on anything he wants. You don’t need his permission to get away from him.

He doesn’t accept it when I say that I’m no longer attracted to him – I should either get into specifics / “be honest and say the real reason”, or it’s only a “politically correct bullshit excuse”.

“He doesn’t accept it when I say that I’m no longer attracted to him.” This is not healthy. This is not acceptable. This is toxic, abusive, dangerous shit.

And this is why I have no patience for the idea that breakups need an explanation. No, you don’t owe your ex a reason why you’re breaking up. You don’t need to sit there and patiently explain why you can’t be together anymore. You don’t need to put the breakup in terms your ex will understand. If someone’s demanding an explanation, chances are they don’t want to understand. They want the relationship to continue, and they think they can make that happen by arguing away your reasons for breaking up.

You don’t need to make them understand. Just…get up and leave the room.

(I feel like we are not compatible emotionally, and my feelings have changed towards him – that is all to it.)

Yeah, that’s sufficient. Get the fuck away from him and don’t let him near you again.

Captain, what is the right thing to do? I don’t want to bail on him because he does need help, and I want him to have a good life.

He needs help, not a relationship. Whether he gets that help is not your responsibility. Whether he has a good life is not your problem.

On the other hand, this relationship is becoming extremely toxic (to which we both contribute), and I’m scared this thing will end with him dead/ruined.

Sounds like he’s threatening suicide? Which is also incredibly toxic, abusive shit. So get the hell out.

I feel like the honest thing to do would be breaking up and offering my help as a friend,

NOPE NOPE NOPE. Break up, yes. Offer friendship, no.

but I’m afraid he won’t accept that because I haven’t paid him back for my past mistakes.

If your best friend told you the same thing about her relationship, what would be your response? “Haven’t paid him back for past mistakes”? How about…get yourself the fuck out of there and let him clean up his own mess.

I’m also the only person in his life – I have read your post about this kind of situation, but I feel like it doesn’t apply here because I’m at serious fault in creating this mess.

He wants you to think his problems are your fault. Unless you’ve actively engaged in abusive behavior toward him, he has no right to blame you for his failures. And if you’ve been abusing him, then get the hell out of that relationship. But even if both of you have been contributing toxic shit to the relationship, it sounds like this guy has successfully gotten you twisted into a pretzel shape around his hurt feelings. Like, even if you’ve both been hitting each other, it seems you’re the one with more severe injuries.

Either way, get the hell out.

How do I “unruin” his life?

Stop letting him lay his problems at your feet.

How do I help him without draining him at the same time?

You’re not the one who can help him here.

How do I give him a reason to end a relationship that he can accept?

He doesn’t need to accept anything. You get away from him, you cut off contact, and you stay away. The longer that “give me a real reason” discussion goes on, the longer he gets to keep you where he wants you.

Please, help me. I regret having been a coward so much.

Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. I can tell you haven’t done so already.

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