Is it cruel to break up with him now?

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Meredith,

I was listening to the podcast and related to the guest in this season's Episode 2, the one who talked about when you know someone's not right for you, but you're just too forgiving to do anything about it. I feel like this with my boyfriend. There have been so many red flags that I have ignored in the past, but now, at this point, I feel like I have invested so much that it's so hard to just do that damn thing and walk away.

My boyfriend’s grandpa is dying of lung cancer right now; they have a very close relationship. We got in a huge fight the day before his grandpa got diagnosed, and I couldn't find it in me to break up with him. I still can't. I like what you said about it just being better for the person overall, but I feel like a coward because I don’t have the courage to break up with him. I keep thinking I am just going to wake up one day and be able to do it, or an opportunity will arise and I will have the courage.

It's not that I am miserable dating him, but I am not that elated either. We have fun, share a great physical connection, and dating him is exciting. But there's so much drama that it doesn’t feel worth it. At this point I just feel like I am settling, and I know thats not good. I don't know if I should just wait it out for the right opportunity to end it, or if I should keep holding on if things start to look up.

– Seeing red flags at 22


Here's a brief episode summary for those who don't listen to the podcast: A guest talks about being dumped the same day he found out his closest relative (his grandma) was dying. He thought it was a cruel move on the part of his ex. In the end, though, he realizes that there was no good time to be dumped, and that his not-so-great boyfriend did him a favor by getting out of his way so that he could lean on people who planed to stick around.

Some might disagree, but I do believe what I said in that episode, which was that his boyfriend did the right thing by ending it (although, I suppose he could have waited one day before delivering more bad news). As you get older, it gets harder to find a good time to break up. School-year breakups come naturally; summer hits and it can be an easy goodbye. But once you're in a routine and life doesn’t have obvious pauses, it's difficult to find an obvious moment for an ending. Also, there's often some problem outside of the relationship that makes it a bad time. How many people are putting off a breakup right now because of COVID-19? How many people stay together longer than they want to because they don't want to abandon someone who needs them?

Your boyfriend’s grandfather is dying. Over time, your boyfriend will experience loss and grief and will need support ... from someone. It doesn't have to be you. You can talk to him about this; let him know you don't see a future together. You can explain that you want to be supportive, but that you're wondering whether it would be better for him to call on a community of people who plan to be around forever.

He knows the fight happened. He knows there's been drama. It might not be easy, but it's time.

– Meredith

Readers? How do you break up with someone when they're going through something difficult?