Girlfriend wants more?

Dear Alice,

I have a problem with my girlfriend of one year. She feels more than I do in our relationship and thus has decided that she needs to break off our relationship. I feel very comfortable with the relationship but I understand that to be supportive I must do everything I can to make her happy. I know it's not my responsibility, but as her boyfriend I want her to be happy regardless. If she tells me to leave, I know I must, but what do I do about our relationship after that? How do I react to this situation?


Dear Concerned, 

It seems as though you’re happy to stay in the relationship, but your girlfriend feels otherwise — which can be a tough situation for both of you. Everyone in relationships has wants and needs that they hope will be met by their partner(s). However, those individuals may not always be on the same page about these wants and needs. If one member decides it's over, then by definition, it's over, and the most respectful way to do this is give that former partner the space to move on. That said, if your girlfriend hasn’t broken it off yet, you might consider talking with her about how you’re feeling in the hopes of salvaging the relationship, if that’s what you want. 

In the event your girlfriend is willing to talk about the relationship or willing to try to work it out, you might consider getting some clarity about what it is that she wants but feels she isn’t getting. You mention that your girlfriend feels more in the relationship than you do. It might also be wise to reflect on your own wants and needs: How do you feel about her? Are you holding on to the relationship because the thought of being single fills you with dread? When you think about what you value in your current relationship, are they specific to her (for example, your mutual love of froyo, the ways she has challenged you and supported your personal growth, or the way her eyes light up when she watches her favorite movie), or are they more related to being in a relationship in general (for example, never worrying about having a date to big events, having someone you can call late at night when you’re upset, or having a regular source of physical contact and affection)? Are you getting what you want and need from your girlfriend? If you feel good in your current relationship, it may be worth expressing to her what specifically makes you happy about the relationship — and about her. If she indicates that something is missing in the relationship and you feel strongly that you'd like to try to provide that, you can consider expressing this to her as well. 

People differ on how much commitment they want to offer, how quickly they want the relationship to progress, how intimate they want to be physically and emotionally, how they want to communicate, and many other aspects of being in a relationship. So, when these needs and wants come into conflict, partners must decide if it makes the most sense to try to work it out or to call it quits. Relationships end all the time — for big reasons and small ones — and it’s all right to mourn a break-up even while recognizing that moving on was the healthier option. It certainly isn’t easy, but ultimately, it’s usually better in the long run for all involved if an unhappy person walks away from a relationship rather than stay in one that's not quite working.  

If after having this conversation, one or both of you decide to part ways, check out the Moving On category in the Go Ask Alice! Relationships archives for some thoughts on how to handle your heartache. 

Best of luck to you, 

Last updated Sep 24, 2021
Originally published Jan 01, 1994

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