Too little, too late; how do I break up with him? (Relationship and Dating Advice)

Dear Guys,

I can’t help but feeling that too much stuff has happened between me and my boyfriend for us to go on. I feel like his mom. Since he’s practically dependent on me I worry about dumping him; I don’t want to be responsible for making someone homeless. Here’s my laundry list of stuff he’s done. Please I can use all the advice and insight I can get, thank you.


In the beginning we were care free lovers. I always wanted more commitment out of him but we had such a good time so I let it go. It all started when he was experiencing some trouble with his family—he lived with his family and I offered to let him stay with me for a while. Once we started living together which seemed to be more out of necessity than romance he wanted to be exclusive. Now a year-and-a-half and four apartments later, he still needs my help and a place to stay, although I’m sure he could manage to manipulate another girl for a place to stay VERY EASILY.

During the time I was helping him and “exclusively dating him” he hooked up with my best friend whom I had know since I was 13 in a hotel room I was paying for in the bed next to me. (More than once.) His excuse for that was that he didn’t like her and wanted her out of my life. Turns out they still talk on Facebook. He used my car while I was at work to go hook up with his baby’s mom and would pick me up an hour late. (I work graveyard.) He also had another affair with this girl who thought that my car was his and to put the icing on the cake was older and not as attractive as me. He said the only reason he did it was because she “made him do it.” Yeah, right. He’s 6’2 and she’s probably 5’3; and did I mention she supplied his weed habit. (Probably better than I ever could UGH).

I wish this was the end of the story, but after all of this he had a mental break down (very hard for me) and did some stupid stuff that ended up getting himself and me into some legal trouble. Being the responsible adult of this relationship I made sure all of the legal stuff got taken care of and continued to give him all that I could to make sure he was okay.

It’s been about a year since he lost it and he’s totally fine now. I think he appreciates and loves me more for what I’ve done for him now than he ever has which makes it harder for me to dump him. After I gave him everything and put up with him cheating in very hurtful ways now he seems to respect and love me the way I always wanted. I’ve given him so many chances why now does he have to finally start to get his shit together after everything he’s put me through? It just feels like the classic too little too late. We’ve been through so much I feel more like his friend and less like his girlfriend. I would love to stay friends, but taking care of him is killing me; I feel like he’s sucking up the best years of my life.

🙁 The worst part is getting him to understand how everything he did just made me not love him like I used to. Haha did I mention that after a year-and-a-half he finally just got a real job for the first time today.


Dear Stephanie,

Thanks for your question and your donation. Wow, that’s quite a story. If you’re looking for encouragement, or even permission, to move on, you certainly have ours. He’s either a narcissist—someone who unknowingly takes advantage of other people—or completely self-centered—someone who knowingly manipulates and takes advantage of others—or some sort of combination if that’s even possible.

You’ve supported him throughout these years, but you’ve also enabled him. In a way, you are kind of like his mom. And many parents face this same dilemma: Their child can’t seem to get their shit together so they keep falling back on their parents to bail them out. Think about that. Parents react in different ways. Some parents continually bail their child out. Some parents finally stand their ground and say “enough is enough” but still try to offer some support. And some parents lay down the law and take away all support. (With much sadness, and sometimes anger.) It’s not a great position to be in that’s for sure. And we’re sorry you’ve somehow gotten yourself into this. Now you need to extract yourself.

It’s easy for us to say, but you certainly don’t owe him anything. In fact he should be forever grateful to you, and he probably is. But Stephanie, you’ve got your own life to live, and you need to look out for yourself. You don’t need for him to understand WHY you’re not in love with him anymore. You need to keep the emotion out of it as hard as that may be. Because the right approach is to simply be straightforward, honest, and succint. Have you seen the movie “Moneyball?” There’s a scene where Brad Pitt’s character explains to his assistant GM how to tell a player he’s been traded. You should watch it. He says you just need to be short and sweet and say it with no emotion. Example: “(Name), you’ve been traded to the Chicago Cubs. (Hands him a card.) Here’s the name of their player development guy and he’ll be able to help you out. Thank you for your service.” (He might say a little more and that’s it. No emotion, no long explanation.) The assistant GM is kind of surprised at how cold that seems, but when he actually has to implement it, he realizes it’s the best approach. Clean. Quick. Done.

And that’s how we think you need to approach this. Say something like this: “I’m glad you’ve finally found a job and are getting yourself together, but I’m not in love with you anymore. It’s time we went our separate ways.”

You might be shaking your head and saying to yourself, “There’s just no way I can do that. I owe him more than that.” And we say, “Actually you don’t.” You’ve already said what you’ve needed to say over the course of your relationship. There’s no more that needs to be said. If you truly want to extract yourself from this relationship, you need to do it fast and clean with little explanation. And then he needs to move out. Or you need to. Yes, you’ll feel guilty, but understand it’s best for both of you. This is about trust. You need to trust him enough to know he’ll be able to take care of himself without you.

And finally, the kicker: We also don’t think you should even be friends with him. You’ve got to build a new life for yourself, with a supportive partner that’s going to give as much as you give, and support you as much as you support them. You can’t do that with him around. And we can tell you, that when you find that new person—and we know you will—you’re going to be shocked when you look back at all that you put up with in this relationship. And you’re going to be angry with yourself. (Of course, we’d advise you not to be. Every human on this earth looks back and wonders why they did what they did. But most of us, make the best decisions we can at the time they’re happening.)

You seem like a strong woman, with a good head on your shoulders. It’s time to start applying that strength to your own dreams and aspirations. You can do it.

Thoughts? Feel free to ask as many follow-up questions as you’d like. (In the comments’ section below.)

Take care and good luck,


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12 Comments on Too little, too late; how do I break up with him? (Relationship and Dating Advice)

  1. Ok, So I have been in a relationship with my guy for going on four years. So much drama has happened in those years I cant even mention it all. He came into the relationship with three kids, I had none. Now we have two together. In the beginning he had a job and an apartment with just him and his kids. His power was off so I told him he could stay at my place till they were fixed. Well needless to say we moved in together. I cant help but feel he knew what he was doing all along. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking it was very far from my character but then my existence through the course of this whole relationship has been far from my character. About 4 months into the relationship I got pregnant (kinda feel like he planned that too, to trap me). I was happy about my first but not my second baby initially. He has not worked since he lost his job waaayyyyy at the beginning of the relationship. So we are constantly struggling. So when I found out there was gona be a FIFTH child in my home ya I kinda freaked out but Im over it now. But I must admit it makes me a little bitter, Im barely 30 and I took my time to have children but because Im with him I have to be extra careful. I have told him I feel old, depressed, I don’t fell like my young, fun self anymore, haven’t in a long time, he just brushes me off, he never takes me anywhere or buys me anything, I know where kinda broke but you can get a $1.99 rose at the coner store for valentines day it wouldn’t break the budget. He is wishy washy when it comes to the whole marriage thing. He blames me because I have left him. I understand that but the subject was shakey before I ever left. He says he dosent want to rush marriage because he was married once (to the kids mom) and ingaged to his ex. Which makes me wonder why I am the only one without a ring. He says im pressuring him but I think I have been very patient and understantding for a woman who has not only givin you two children but also help raise THREE that aren’t mine. He has “proposed” but nothing I can really take seriouse, and again no ring. Who proposes without a ring?! I even bit the bullet (kinda regretting it now) and told him he could get me a cheap ring about $50 until we could afford a real one, since that was his latest excuse was the price. Still no ice lol. We have been through domestic violence situations, he can be emotionally abusive and draining. He is manipulative and I honestly don’t trust him anymore. He has done so much to me that not only do I not trust him, I find myself questioning my love for him. I know I still love him or I wouldn’t be here now, but my love for him is not the same. He says he has built a wall up because I have left him 3 times, yes 3 times and I keep coming back. That is another major issue. In my past I was a no nonsense kinda girl, If I liked a guy Id date him but when I was done I was done, and it didn’t take much. But for some reason he has a way of getting in my head and making me doubt EVERYTHING! I feel like I cant think straight when he is in my life. I am so focused on taking care of him and his kids I neglect not only myself but at times my own babies due to exhaustion and depression. And the guilt trips that he has so cleverly placed in my brain, about not being a good enough mother to his 3 kids. Funny thing is he feels as though his ex is a better mother to them than me and used to tell me all the time. He would compare me to her, saying she was better, a better mother, woman, cook, etc. This ended not too long ago. He tells me hes sorry for the pain he caused with his words and to forget about the past but he was only trying to help me. I feel like hes always trying to change me (maybe even into her) he says no of course. Worst of all he still communicates with her.( Please not this is NOT the mother of the 3 children, just his ex who helped him raise them before me). As far as I know he started communicating with her again about a year into the relationship, this is even after giving him a child, she has no children with him. He even took the time to call her while I was out of the state for my mother’s funeral. Can you believe it?! That’s really when it all started, with the ex I mean, we were having other problems way before that. Anyway there is way more dirt I could mention that would probably make everyone on here hate him, but I have agreed to put the past in the past because he says he is really trying to make this work. I just cant help but feel like he is playing me, leading me on, something. I don’t feel like they are over each other. They both say they don’t ever want to be with each other again, but they always contact each other randomly and no matter who initiates the other will always respond, its very sickening. Sometimes I don’t even feel like hes mine. I have even said that I think I am his rebound and should have never had children with him (I love my babies wouldn’t trade them for the world). But I don’t want a family with a man who is hung up on someone else. He says he loves me and never loved like this blah blah but why does he keep communicating with her? I tell him to block her from facebook , he does and then when he feels the need to talk to her (rather we are broken up, still together, whatever) he simply unblocks her and sends her messages. I hate that he seems to update her on our lives. He tells her about our children, and actually has the audacity to ask her to help me, whatever the F that means! I don’t understand it, if your over your ex, theres nothing their, why do you have such conversations. Am I the only decent person who cuts off all ties to my exes lol really. Especially when your in a relationship as “serious” as ours! We have children, we make life plans. Why do all of that with me if you really want her?! At this point I have told him I don’t want him to contact her for any reason (as if I haven’t said that before) and I told him I think hes not over her and if he contacts her after this last message I found, less than a month ago (again its been 4 years already what gives) if he contacts her I know what it is. And I must leave FOR GOOD. The sad thing is I don’t think he thinks I will leave (I always come back). Please help me, I fear that I too am waisting all of my good years. I don’t want to look up 5-10 years from now old and bitter wishing I would have had the balls to leave him for good. I just want to do whats best for me and my babies. To be honest guilt and confusion set in when it comes to his kids because they view me as their mother, they don’t have any other woman to look to as mom and that makes me sad, I don’t want to abandon them and I have left so many times already I don’t want to do more damage to any of our children. He also very much depends on me not just him but the kids. When I leave he falls apart and they suffer greatly. Its very hard to live with, but my friends and family tell me to worry about my two little ones but I don’t know. I cant help but feel like he is using me. I do believe he loves me, but what is love to him? I think that is the question. And, am I the only woman he loves? When I leave him I feel inspired and hopeful, like im finding my old self. When Im with him I feel stifled, confused, controlled, and lost. I think the only time I feel confident or fulfilled with this relationship is when Im working overtime to convince myself. Please help!

  2. Sorry my comment is so long. I had alot on my chest lol.

  3. @Rose…….This is tough. We’re sorry. We can see how much you’re struggling. Of course understand that we can’t tell you what you should do, but we’ll paint it from our perspective and maybe that will help. Your last few sentences really stand out for us(Your words): “When I leave him I feel inspired and hopeful, like im finding my old self. When Im with him I feel stifled, confused, controlled, and lost. I think the only time I feel confident or fulfilled with this relationship is when Im working overtime to convince myself. Please help! So question: What do you want? If you could erase the guilt and worry about his kids and him, would you leave with your two kids and move on? Because if the answer is yes, then maybe your family is right. Consider this: An unhappy mother—and father—is not as good to her kids as a happy one. Example: Lots of parents feel weird about taking a job they want because they won’t see their kids as much. But if the job makes them happy then the time they’re with their kids is better. A happy person makes a more focused and loving person. You’re not doing your own two kids any favors by being miserable. And probably the energy required to take care of his kids and him is also taking away from them. Remember, they are your first priority. Well, actually, you are. Think about this analogy: When you’re on a plane and there’s an air pressure issue they always say to put your own mask on first, then help your child. You seem in serious need of oxygen here. As per the father of your children. Has he given you any reason to think he’s going to change? Or that things won’t revert right back to the way they were once you come back? A promise to change is not enough. Change requires work. Therapy in some cases, counseling. A completely different attitude. A new job. To us, this doesn’t seem to be happening. So these are some questions to ask yourself. Think about it and get back to us if you’d like. Take care.

  4. Thank you all so much for responding to my post. It is comforting to know there are people in the world who are concerned and willing to help. You brought up a good point…CHANGE. Everytime I leave he promises to change (although he also tells me I need to change, however my issues are not what caused the breakup. Im all for change but when ur the reason for the split and your trying to get me back shouldnt we be focused on your change right now, just sayin). He has shown signs of change but now that I take a step back and look it seems as though he has the ILLUSION of change not actual change. The issue with his ex has been ongoing practically through the whole relationship, he just contacted her two months ago. To me that’s not change. The illusion is he stopped contacting her (for a few months, or until he found a reason/excuse) so how long am I expected to wait until it happens again. Its been 4 years, I feel like if it hasn’t stopped yet maybe it never will. He is verbally, emotionally, and used to be physically abusive. The physical abuse has stopped because I called the cops last time so hes scared, its not like he just made a decision to stop hitting me when he flips his lid, he just don’t wana go to jail. So that dosent feel like real change either. To be honest my psyche is counting the days till he cant hold it in anymore and just lashes out and attacks me. He still emotionally and verbally abuses me, maybe not as much as before but again, can a tiger really change his stripes? He works over time to keep me down, telling me Im not as smart as him (I may not know what he knows, but still I am a very intelligent person I feel and have been told). He says things like I could never make it without him u know the usual control, manipulation tactics. So really Im at the point now, since writing the first post, that I want to leave and STAY GONE but I must admit Im scared, and even worse I don’t know why. You asked the question if I could get rid of the guilt would I leave, the answer is YES. But the question remains why am I still here? Based on the “illusion of change” examples I have given, what is your honest opinion? I hope I have given you enough to work with there is just too much to mention. F.y.i. Valentine’s day passed and he didn’t get me anything, nor has he in the four years we have been together not for v-day, Christmas, or my birthday. For mother’s day last year he got me two very nice cards, I got flowers and a teddy bear when I gave birth to our first child (funny thing is he even told me that his kids told him to get me something almost looking at him like he was crazy cause it seems like the thought didn’t even cross his mind). When V-day passed the other day and I didn’t get anything I was sad and depressed for all of Valentine’s day, while lovers where loving etc. I was sulking because I don’t feel loved. I didn’t want to talk to him about it because I felt it was pointless, but he harassed me about what was wrong with me (as if he didn’t know) so when I said to him we have been together four years and you haven’t gotten me anything, he responded “oh man, I hoped that wasn’t what you were in here tripping about” . He flipped it on me and said I was selfish, and only think of myself. He made excuses about walking to the store (we don’t have a car) and getting me a gift saying he was too tired and his body hurt. He actually said “ I was gonna get u a teddy bear and a card but you messed that up with your attitude”. He spent the rest of V-day and the following day acting as if he did nothing wrong, smiling at me, trying to make nice but never apologizing. Then I guess when he was tired of being nice he said “whats your problem, that was yesterday, get over it!” Is it just me or does this not sound like someone who loves and honors me?! Please help and thanks in advance.

  5. @Rose……This sounds difficult. We can’t tell you what to do here. It seems pretty clear that your relationship is not working right now. Probably for either of you. And this may be above our pay grade. If you feel scared or worried, especially if this fear involves physical abuse, you might want to find help—a professional, police, DSS, someone close by. Try this link. We wish we could say more but to us it seems you know what you need to do but are unable to do it. That’s why we’re suggesting you seek out help. Take care of yourself and good luck.

  6. Christina // April 5, 2013 at 12:36 am //

    Hey guys,
    So I have been in an off and on relationship with this guy for a while. We have been friends for years before. Last year in September we became really serious.. he moved in with me, he gave me a promise ring and said he wanted to marry me one day. My friends (even ones who are married) always told me how jealous they were of our relationship.. and I could see why, he was my best friend and the best lover I ever had. I have never been with someone who made me feel so comfortable with myself. In January he went out of town to work for a couple weeks and he didn’t stay in touch very well.. drama and what other people were telling us about the other consumed our relationship. I was also having trouble paying our rent on my own since I am in school full time. When the other guys who went out of state to work with him came home, he decided to stay. The way I saw it, if he didn’t come home then it meant he didn’t care so I broke up with him. I wanted to remain friends but we fought too much after our break up, it was like we couldn’t stand each other any more. One thing that kept us fighting was that he never gave me my things back that he had. Sentimental items that belonged to my father, a lap top and so on. I gave him all his things, I even returned to him the ring he bought me. About a month after we quit talking he called me and said that I could come get my stuff. Of course I went and we ended up sleeping together “one last time.” Well that ended up in us hanging out all the time and pretty much just back to the way we were before, he moved in to my apartment, everything was “we” “us” “ours”; however, we decided to just be friends and see what happened. He was a completely different person. He made me feel bad about myself, sometimes even making comments that if I would work out more THEN I would have a beautiful body. I recently lost 50 pounds and I have heard nothing but praise and congratulations for my new body, but someone who was so important to me saying those things to me tore me down. One day we were at his dads doing some things around the house for him and some girls showed up out of no where. He went and changed and just left with the girls, not saying a word to me about it. I was shocked. At this time we had been “friends” for about 2 months. When he saw that I was upset he told me I needed to quit acting like we were a couple and get over it. Even though we arent in a relationship, I feel that even a friend should not treat another friend like that. Since he was basically living with me again I had to go home and pack up all his things. Once again I returned everything that belonged to him. He says that I am a b*tch and over react.. but what do you think guys? He says he was working on our relationship but he was constantly talking to other girls and telling them he loved them. I am having a hard time moving on and understanding how someone who was supposed to love me could treat me like this. Is it a guy thing or is he specifically just a jerk?

  7. @Christina…Are you still living with him? If so, we’d suggest finding your own place or some other roommates. Because it sounds like you’re hanging on hoping he’s going to change his mind about you and your relationship. We don’t see it happening. Sure, he might want sex with you again, but that’s far different than wanting a relationship. And be honest with yourself. If you were truly just friends the fact that he went out with other girls wouldn’t really bother you. The two of you are on different pages. He doesn’t want what you want. We’re sorry. But we’re just trying to be honest. We’d suggest moving on, but it’s your call. Hang in there.

  8. Christina // April 5, 2013 at 11:26 am //

    Thanks for the fast reply guys. No, he is not still living with me. The day he left with the girls I told him that we obviously did not want the same things anymore. The past couple of days he has been texting and calling, just trying to start a fight. I try to be nice to him since I don’t like to argue and I don’t want to give him what he wants. Like you said, I can see now that he doesn’t want anything more from me than sex and the benefits of a relationship with out the responsibility. The first time he got in contact with me after I told him I didn’t want to be friends anymore I asked him to please not talk to me anymore and I would not talk to him, but so far he has not let up, even if I do not reply. How can I get him to leave me alone so I can move on?

  9. @Christina……Just keep being clear to him. Not by starting a fight, but by firmly stating that you’re moving on and you suggest he do the same. Be consistent. Good luck.

  10. I don’t need this advice for me, but I need to help a friend. My best friend has been seeing this guy who is two years older than her for about two and a half years. He’s rich, and really charming, and he has her wrapped around his finger. He’s seemed like a nice enough guy, but there is just too much bad to overshadow the good. He gets drunk a lot, and calls her to pick him up, and then says horrible things to her like how bad of a person she is, and how worthless she is (plus more with much worse words). Each time he does something bad, she says how done she is with him. But then he comes back into her life with a gift or something cute, and she falls right back into everything. She comes to me with advice, and I try the best I can, but I’m getting tired of giving advice she won’t listen to. She doesn’t have the best relationship with her dad, and I feel like that’s why she is so infatuated with this guy. Recently, he did something really bad, and she said she was completely done with him, and he was out of her life. They had a pretty big fight at a friend’s house, and he was kicked out, and I thought finally she saw how bad he was for her. She was really really upset, even depressed, because he’d been such a big part of her life for so long. But then he contacted her again a few days ago, saying all these nice things, and I’m afraid she’s going to go back to him. I hate seeing her so upset. I feel like its almost an abusive relationship: not physically, but mentally. He keeps continuously hurting her, and I don’t know how to help her. Anything you can say to help would be SO appreciated! Thank you!

  11. @Kelly…..What can we say that you haven’t already? That’s the problem. She has to wake up and see the relationship for what it is. Since we don’t have firsthand knowledge we can’t say if it’s an abusive relationship but clearly there’s an imbalance of power and that’s never a good thing. It’s hard to say why she’s chosen this relationship. Is it about the relationship she has with her father? Is it low self-esteem? Does she truly love this guy? Who knows. But clearly she hasn’t reached the depths of the abyss. Until that happens it’s likely she’s going to cling to this guy. Our advice to you: Pull back and try to be a supportive and understanding friend. She knows where you stand. If you push this too much she’ll push you away. And you don’t want that. She needs a good friend in this difficult and confusing time in her life. Good luck.

  12. Hey guys – tagging on here – I am basically in the same boat as Stephanie – except mine cheated once at the beginning (that I know of). He also lied about having a child with an ex of his – two of his ex GF’s harassed me for money – but i am even friends with one now.

    Anyway, I never trusted him, he took me for granted and spent 1.5 years lying to me and breaking promises. He has ADD and it’s really hard to get through to him about any of my feelings, and like a child he wouldn’t take responsibility. Expected me to pay for everything, and organise all the dates etc…

    He got us in some legal trouble with TV licensing, which I fixed, he was being chased for Child Maintenance which I fixed… he just can’t deal with his own adult life.

    He put on 3 stone in a year, his waist is 45 inches! It’s horrible He over eats, and doesn’t exercise! Gross!

    I am not in love with him. I am repulsed my him, I am always angry. I don’t even have the strength to fight with him anymore. I have even started hanging out with old flames and new ones and I think I am very close to cheating.

    BUT – after 18 months… he’s FINALLY starting to try. He’s going to the gym and lost 5kl – he’s eating healthy. He’s sharing more of the chores with me WITHOUT being asked/nagged. He’s just booked a valentines meal for us….

    What if i am making the wrong decision? Will my love for him return or am I just holding on to a dream that was based on his lies at the start? I can’t bear to see him hurt, it’s like kicking a helpless puppy. He’s not close to his family and he has about 2 friends that he hardly sees. He has a job, but I am afraid that kicking him out will make him homeless, I don’t want to make him miserable. Is this even normal?

    Right now i feel like whatever i do will be wrong.

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