You are not a terrible person if you’re thinking of leaving a chronically underemployed/unemployed partner. We only get one life, and you’re allowed to put your own interests first. Love is lovely … but so is peace of mind and financial security. In some circumstances it might be blindingly obvious whether to stay or go. But in others it’s not – this one’s for you. (For the record: While things seem to be back on track, I’m keeping things separate so that they’re easy to untangle again if needed.)
How did I know I couldn’t keep going?
When I asked myself, is this relationship adding net value to my life? I could no longer say yes.
For all the good, the bad outweighed it, and had been for a long time.
Nobody knows all the gory details. They don’t need to. Honestly, I could have coped with it all – as long as he had a full time job. But all those things, combined with zero income … different story. Especially given the fact that going separate ways would render him eligible for unemployment benefits.
It is damn hard to tell where supporting becomes enabling, and being taken advantage of.
I am far from blameless. I made mistakes. There are many things I could have done better. And I’m much wiser for it.
I held on too long. Then I came to a crossroads.
I could keep being passive. And I would almost certainly wind up bitter and drained. Probably having a breakdown and having to take time off work – ironically, the only thing keeping us afloat financially, not to mention the only good thing in my life.
Or I could cut my losses. Put myself first for once. Heal from the toll of two years of uncertainty and stress.
Life was exhausting. Going from carrying the weight of two people to just me – it was infinitely lighter. I can’t quantify the relief I felt; I slept like a baby those first few nights after leaving.
There was second-guessing, of course. There always is. But after months of internal back-and-forth, I knew it was the right call. I’d done so much soul searching and so much reading, in pursuit of the answer.
It’s so important to have a financially responsible partner.
It takes two. You cannot do it all yourself. And nor should you.
Love and trying isn’t enough.
Love is not willingness to live in a cardboard box together.
Love is doing whatever it takes to not get to that point.