On relationship seppuku

You recently answered a question on the “cut-off date” for someone you’re not in love with. I am in love with my partner. However, I cried when I read the guideline questions you responded with (needs being met, effort required etc).

What difference does the fact that you’re in love with a person make to a cut-off date? Because at the moment it doesn’t feel like the love factor changes anything other than the level of hurt involved.


The love factor makes zero difference to the cutoff formula, but it changes the answer to the question, “Would it be worth it?”

Here’s the big question. Is your partner also in love with you? If so, and you’re both genuinely in love with one another, then the answer to whether it’s worth it becomes an almost definite yes.

You’re right, it will hurt, and it will take a shit-ton of relationship work, but if you’re both in love, that’s usually enough motivation to improve the relationship unless too much reality starts getting in the way.

Now, if your partner isn’t in love with you (and likely won’t be), then you’re really fucked. Sorry. You can’t be the only one making the effort to improve the relationship, especially if you’re the one whose physical, mental, and emotional needs aren’t being met.

Again, I’m sorry if that’s what’s happening with you. It really sucks to be stuck in love with someone who isn’t in love with you and refuses or is incapable of meeting your basic needs in a relationship. That is a recipe for undignified misery.

If that’s the case, and you know in your heart that it’s never gonna get any better no matter how much work you pour into it, then you need to summon up all your strength and commit the equivalent of relationship seppuku. When a relationship needs to end, I always recommend making a fast, clean, and merciful cut. Unfortunately, in this instance, you’d be the one who has to wield your own blade.


5 thoughts on “On relationship seppuku

  1. Plagarism says:

    I love that you compared her being in a relationship that wasn’t meeting her emotional needs to a samurai committing ritual suicide after breaking Bushido.

  2. PolicyChick says:

    Well this hits pretty close to home, although in my situation, I’m in love with someone who is not available. Even if he was, I know in my heart (and he does too) he doesn’t have the emotional capacity to give me what I want and need. Yet I love him, and have for almost six years now. He’s brilliant, witty, charming. He’s handsome, and has dark liquid eyes you could just fall into. Our conversations about politics and constitutional law and policy are incredibly stimulating – and I mean that in every sense.

    He can also be unkind, cruel even; is emotionally distant and seems to have little empathy. Just about the time I think he really is a narcissist, he says something so sincerely beautiful…. Like, just when I start approaching escape velocity, he pulls me back.

    I asked him out about two months after I met him, but I was too late – he had just started dating a girl a few weeks previous. Over time the girl moved in, and is now his fiancee. I blew it.

    I moved across the country, in part because of him, but the physical distance hasn’t helped much. We still correspond, I still see him every time I go back to that city, we still fool around – although its oral sex for him, and he will barely touch me.

    And now, I’ll be moving back to his city soon (where I don’t know many people any more) and it’ll just get worse – if it can get any worse, I guess.

    This has torn me up for so long, and I know – I KNOW – all this pain is completely self-inflicted.

    Sorry for the long ramble. I hope you can’t see the tears, either.

    • J Lynn says:

      This sounds torturous! I’m so sorry. DTMFA.

      At first it sounded like typical longish-term unrequited love, which is painful in itself. Then came the part where he accepts bj’s while “barely touching” you, while also being engaged in what seems safe to assume is not an open relationship with his fiancee. That part is seriously shitty. Given that he’s stringing you along (which, granted, you allow to happen), at least he should give some mutual orgasms! (At least 50/50 odds he doesn’t usually make his fiancee come either.) Taking and not giving at least physical affection if not satisfaction proves his selfishness to me. I bet in his mind, it also includes some absurd self-justification that it’s less-bad cheating if he doesn’t “do” anything but just receives oral sex.

      I think that you didn’t miss your chance or “blow it” with this guy. The chance for a mutually satisfying, reciprocal relationship was probably never there with him.

      His seeming intellectual brilliance is a typical defense mechanism for people who are emotionally damaged/stunted/dysfunctional, and who have the aptitude to develop and play the “smarty pants” role. They cope with the world by attaching intellectually while remaining emotionally unavailable. I know because I have had a tendency to do this myself, and be attracted to similar types. This next part is just a speculation, but you may also have problems being emotionally available, hence your long-standing attachment to someone unattainable. It feels awful, but may be, perversely, less scary than a man who wants emotional commitment. Emotionally unavailable people are often attracted to each other, yet the attachments they form together are ambivalent.

      If he actually has NPD, that’s one of their behaviors with their “narcissistic supply” people … mistreat/ignore, then just when the “suppliers” are about to leave, reel them back in.

      The world is wide. There are other brilliant minds behind beautiful eyes out there, who have decent non-dysfunctional personalities. But you can’t find them, maybe can’t even see them, while being so attached to this emotionally stunted douche.

      My advice is DTMFA and, even better, go no-contact for at least a year (if not forever!), or just pleasantries if you must for professional reasons. I noticed you said you were moving to his “city” not his village — “city” means there will be a lot of other worthwhile people there besides him. I know from personal experience that you will have to suffer heartbreak for a while, but will be absolutely worth it when you start filling the void with your own thoughts, goals and better relationships.

      • PolicyChick says:

        You are so good to write this, to take the time to give me thoughtful encouragement and insight. And of course, you are right in many ways. He chooses to take and enjoy my affections with little offered in return; but I also choose to give.

        It’s obviously been hard. And Jesus Christ – I’m 50 years old (he’s 39, his fiancee is 27) it’s not like I’m a child. I should know better by now. I need to take all to heart.

        Thank you so much. Really. Thank you for writing.

        Having a hard time writing right now, so all I can offer is appreciation.

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