Breakups > Letting Go > How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With

How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With

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Leaving a man you’ve loved for years isn’t just a physical move out of the house…it’s a painful emotional break. These tips on how to leave a man you love but can’t live with will help you decide if it’s time to say good-bye.

How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live WithDeal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Dr. Bethany Marshall can help you decide if you want to leave this man you’ve loved for years. Knowing if it’s time to go is a difficult decision, even in the most toxic relationships. This book will help you decide what’s a deal breaker – things you can’t live with – and what you can live with because you don’t want to leave the man you love.

Before reading the tips, remember what Gloria Steinem said: “If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?” If your relationship doesn’t suit you, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to change! Sometimes the only thing you need to change is your circumstances. It’s hard to leave a man you’ve loved forever, but it is possible.


How to Leave a Man You Love

Here are some suggestions for leaving a relationship that’s been over for years or months, motivated by a reader’s question on my article about surviving a marriage crisis.

Face the fear that you’ll never be loved again

I’ve been stuck in bad relationships because I was scared nobody else would love me. I didn’t realize that there are plenty of good men who would love to love me, and who would be good for me! My self-esteem and self-confidence was rock bottom, and it held me back from moving on to bigger and better men. To leave your bad boyfriend, you need to build self-confidence.

Get rid of guilty feelings for leaving the man you’ve loved for years

Sometimes, women stay in bad relationships because they feel guilty, or don’t want to leave their boyfriends or husbands in a bad financial, emotional, or social situation. This is misplaced guilt and faulty reasoning! Don’t let negative emotions like fear of what people will think, fear of criticism, or guilt and shame keep you chained to a bad relationship. If you feel like you can’t leave your husband, read How to Survive a Loveless Marriage.

Picture yourself a year from now

Where do you want to be living? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be loving – and who do you want loving you? Often, focusing on our goals – our wish list – can give us motivation and strength to do what we need to do…even if it involves letting go of someone we love.

Accept the help you need to leave the man you’ve loved for years

Here’s a sobering thought from Gloria Steinem: “If women have young children, they are one man away from welfare.” But, accepting financial help from the government is far more preferable than staying in a bad relationship! When I was a kid, we were on welfare for most of my childhood – and my mom was single, free, and independent (well, as independent as you can be when you rely on the government for support).

Start asking questions

“God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions,” said Steinem. “Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.”

How to Leave a Man You Love But Can't Live With

“How to Leave a Man You Love” image by Vladimir Pustovit via flickr

Asking questions opens up new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new ways of being in the world. Also, I recently learned that women respond to love in different ways than men, which makes it even more difficult to find the strength to leave a man you’ve loved forever. Is it possible that you can figure out how to leave a man you love but can’t live with by learning how he gives and receives love?

Questions to ask yourself about your life:

  • Who am I now…and who do I want to become?
  • If not now, when?
  • Who do I admire?
  • What did I want my life to be like when I was young, naïve, idealistic, passionate?

Questions to ask yourself about leaving men who aren’t good for you:

  • What am I getting out of this relationship, which I know is bad for me?
  • Who is watching me in this relationship – my kids, nieces, neighbors, family members, friends? What are they learning about me, about life?
  • What would I do about this relationship if I knew I would not fail?

You don’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. Just sit with them, let them simmer in the back of your mind. One day, you’ll be ready to make a decision to be strong and leave your partner…or be strong in a different way, and stay.


Are you struggling to find the strength to leave a man you’ve loved for years? I encourage you to listen to your gut and your brain, and do what it takes to create a life that makes you happy and fulfilled.

For more tips on leaving a man you love, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.

I welcome your thoughts on how to leave a man you’ve loved for years, but I can’t offer personal advice or counseling. It might help to write how you feel about leaving a relationship, though, and perhaps get feedback from others.

xo

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210 thoughts on “How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With”

  1. I am currently in a relationship with my partner of 3 years, he is the first guy I have ever loved and only one I have lived with. The first year was so amazing! I had never felt so loved and in love so much as that time. I would give anything to go back, but for the last year he has lost his sex drive almost completely and it has devastated our relationship. He was laid off from work around that time and has not had much success in finding another good job since. I have been as supportive as I can possibly be but I feel so rejected by him because in his words “he just doesn’t feel like it” I cry a lot because of it. He always says he’s sorry and that he will try to be more into fixing our sex life but he never does. We have lived together for 3 years and have our finances pretty much combined. I am so worried that I won’t be able to afford life on my own… and I feel even worse for him since his unemployment benefits have recently run out. I feel that leaving him now will be such a blow to him. I just don’t know what to do. I hope every day that I will wake up and he will go back to the way he use to be, I know that is a pathetic hope… I do not believe he is cheating on me since we spend a lot of time together and are completely open with all our personal devices. I do believe that his lack of employment is a deep source of embarrassment and upsets him dearly but I just can’t hang on any more.

  2. I have been with my current bf for 4 yrs. We live together as well. It used to be great when we first got together, but that was the only time it was good. He has since neglected me, the intimacy sucks, he gets off work only to go straight to his mom’s & stay over there till 6-7am, sleeps till 2pm, only goes to work when he feels like it, is in a dead end job, is always broke because his mom & grandma always have their hand out, (mom is too lazy to work), is a mama’s boy, will not take me where I need to go, (drs appts, for example), work always comes first, my friend from out of town took me, and paid for my meds. My boyfriend is an overall a$$hole. His mom hates any woman he is ever with, because she wants to be his only woman in his life, besides his grandma. An earlier this month, I caught him checking out other women when I was getting my new phone. He’s never done that before. I have a great guy friend that treats me great. He has shown interest in me. I have thought of leaving my bf for the friend, however, my bf will not be able to pay for everything here by himself, (we rent), he would have to go back to his mom’s. Plus, his world already got rocked when his (actually my) dog was killed 2 wks ago. It hit him hard. I know I should leave this stagnant, toxic relationship for something better, but like the other ladies here, I love him, so yes it’s hard.. 4 yrs is a long time. However, I did tell him I wanted to get married some day, but he explicitly told me he does not want to be married again. Ever. What should I do???