Unhappy couple (Alamy/PA)
Unhappy couple (Alamy/PA)

How do I end a long-term relationship?

Columnist and trained counsellor offers guidance to a woman who knows her loveless relationship needs to change

Fiona Caine
Tuesday 07 September 2021 12:40

The problem…

“I’ve been with my boyfriend for 12 years now, and living together for 10. We have a mortgage, some pets but no children, and our relationship has been steadily declining for several years. We sleep in separate rooms and have not had sex for over eight years. In fact, there’s no intimacy at all.

“What’s more, we are barely even housemates. We have very little in common and do not share the same values. He wants children but I do not, and I have always made this clear. We don’t argue – we barely even speak to each other, unless it’s about something mundane. I cannot rely on him to help with housework, finances or looking after our pets. I hate it when he is off work and we are in the house together, and much prefer spending time on my own.

“I am desperately unhappy, and I can’t believe that he is happy with things the way they are either. The problem is, neither of us have the guts to say or do anything about it. It’s made all the complicated by our mortgage, which I know it won’t be easy to leave.

“I often daydream about moving out and having my own home, but the thought of going through it all terrifies me. Equally, the thought of being like this for the rest of my life also terrifies me. He isn’t a bad person; we are just not right for each other anymore.

“I have never had to end a relationship before; something always happened to force it. How do I tell someone I just don’t love them anymore? I also have no idea who to turn to for practical support regarding our finances, and finding somewhere else for me to live.”

Fiona says…

“This relationship is over – you both know it, so why one of you hasn’t done anything about ending it is beyond me. Unless, of course, there is something keeping you together – is there still, somewhere, deep down, an element of still feeling something for one another? If there really isn’t, then it’s time to have the conversation – the one where you say: ‘Enough is enough’.

“I think you need to have that conversation first, because it will then decide what you have to do next. You say neither of you has the guts to say or do anything about it, but you really need to find those guts from somewhere because you cannot go on like this.

“If it becomes apparent that a separation is going to be acrimonious, then I would suggest you consult a solicitor to help sort out the financial arrangements. If you can sort things out amicably between you, then you’ll probably simply have to advise your mortgage company.

“I don’t know what financial arrangement you came to when you bought the property. If it is just a 50/50 split then perhaps you could sell the property, pay off the mortgage, and (hopefully) share any increase in the money you’ve made.

“If one of you wants to keep the property and buy the other person out then again, I’d suggest you seek legal advice, and several valuations to reach an agreement on the price to be paid. You say a mortgage won’t be easy to leave, but it’s considerably easier than living in misery!

“It may possibly be that having this conversation triggers feelings that have been buried, and you decide you are prepared to give your relationship another try. If that’s the case, then I would strongly advise you to seek counselling because something triggered this decline in your relationship, and you wouldn’t want that to happen again. Either way, I hope you and your partner can both soon by feeling a lot better than you are now.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.