Hinting about wanting to end relationship

Dear Toni-

I have been in a long distance (1.5 hours apart) relationship for three years. I love her but not like she loves me and how she wants me to love her. She wants exclusive commitment and I no longer do. I want to date other women for fun, which means having the freedom to meet new women and not feel like I am cheating. When I met my girlfriend I thought she was the one or maybe convinced myself of such--but our past problems and my present feelings have led me to doubt what I thought we had.

I have discussed my feelings with her, but haven't talked about my desire to date other women. Instead, I hint about it a lot and I know she can sense a difference in me and in our relationship. My question is: Is there a good way to tell her I want to mingle, yet not completely throw her and our relationship away? She believes I don't see her as good enough and that I am kicking her to the curb, and this leads to her acting angry and jealous. I think she is wonderful, but not enough for an exclusive commitment. I refuse to go behind her back and cheat, but I do not want to hurt her or lose her completely. Is there any way to get a good outcome from this situation, for both of us?
--Need an objective Eye and Ear

Dear Need an Objective Eye and Ear--

It's interesting that even in the question you have posed to me that you are being less than direct in your language. "I want to date other women for fun?..and not feel like I am cheating." "Instead I hint about it a lot and I know she can sense a difference." Then there are the mixed messages- "Is there a good way to tell her I want to mingle, yet not completely throw her and our relationship away?" "I think she is wonderful, but not enough."

Can you see the understatement and contradictions in these? As it stands, your handling of the situation will lead her to experience more hurt than if you were to stop hinting and just lay out your feelings honestly, even if it means you will loose your guaranteed fall back relationship in the process. It appears that along with worrying about hurting her, you are also worried about losing a good thing.

If you really care about this woman you will TELL her in clear words that leave no questions that you do not feel the same way about the relationship that you did at the beginning, that you are not ready to make a commitment to her, that you want to DATE other women and see where that goes, and that you realize she will do the same. It is OK to say that if your feelings grow strongly for her again you will contact her, knowing that she may have already moved on with someone else. In this situation, the best outcome could result from you being completely honest, putting your need for security on a back burner, and letting her go to find what she is looking for somewhere it will truly be available.

(from March 2011)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"In love with a "bad girl""
List of more
"Relationship Challenges"

"Am I mixed up with Mr. Really Wrong?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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