‘She said she had no more to give’

My ex and I were together for seven years. It was a relationship that began in high school, and she has always been much more mature than I am. I've had a lot of problems throughout my life that I've used as excuses for my bad behavior. We have had multiple breakups throughout the years because of my behavior, which involved a lack of attention and just generally not treating her like my partner. She gave her everything, and I know I ruined it completely by not being there for her. I thought that me getting a job would make me better, that me starting a new phase in my life would make me better, that moving out would make me better, that proposing to her would make me better. I waited for something to make me better rather than actually becoming a better person.

One day, I finally decided that I'd had enough. I got the courage to go to a support group, and I realized that everyone there was happy, even though they were dealing with really terrible circumstances. I realized that I have been the reason for my own unhappiness.

When I got home that night, my girlfriend told me she couldn't do this relationship anymore. It felt like I could finally start putting my life together, and then it all fell apart. I acted out. One night, I ran off a bit drunk and she couldn't find me. She said she'd never been so scared in her life and would do whatever it took to help me get better, and that we'd still be together.

A month later, though, she broke up with me again, even though I was doing well. She said she had no more to give. We live together, and it was hard the first three months – having her behave so cold and heartless toward me. Then I got used to it. I stopped asking her how she was, stopped asking where she was late at night. I know she began seeing someone else.

The new year came, and she started being nicer to me, started telling me where she was, what she was doing. It's been confusing. She wants to be friends, nothing more than that ever again. I can't be her friend; it really hurts because I love her. Beyond that, I care for her, so I can't just abandon her either. She is a really closed-off and reserved person, so if I am gone, who will be there for her? She doesn't even trust her family anymore. I pay for things because she hasn't had a job in months.

How can I make this easier?

– Alone

She's not 100 percent isolated in the world. Maybe it seems that way to you, but this woman has managed to leave the house and see other people. She's managed to date other people. That means she can build her own community.

It's overwhelming to think about ending a relationship that brought you from high school to adulthood, but you both need time alone – as single people – to focus on your own lives. You should be figuring out how to maintain your happiness, even when this woman is not around. In practical terms, that means moving out, severing all financial ties, and making it clear that she has to support herself.

The two of you stayed together because it felt necessary – like survival. But relationships aren't supposed to work that way. You're supposed to know that you can be OK on your own, but that you choose your partner anyway. That's a good goal, at least. In your case, there's too much need.

Commit to leaving her alone in all ways, and continue to work on yourself and your happiness. You can walk away, and she can fend for herself.

– Meredith

Readers? Any reason for the LW to keep this person around?