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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question

TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I need some help about a choice Im about to make. There is

Customer Question

I need some help about a choice I'm about to make. There is a girl, I've known her for a bit more than a year. She lives in China. We do love each other. However, she's already in a relationship with another guy. While she wants to leave him, she can't make herself hurt him. She says things like, if she ditches him so that she's happy with me while he is miserable, then she'll live with guilt for the rest of her life. I'm not sure what to do. We talked about if I moved to where she lives, leaving my family and career behind for a while, then she's going to feel the same amount of guilt towards me if she doesn't leave him, so she's able to make a free choice. But even then, she won't say for sure what she will or won't do.
I feel very confused... how can I help her deal with her guilt? I feel that by asking me to do this, she's asking me to show her very much devotion, and lately I've started questioning whether she's worth it...
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like she is either unwilling to leave him because she still wants to be with him or as she says, she doesn't want to leave him out of guilt for how he will feel. While that is good of her not to want to hurt him, it still leaves you both trapped in the situation without an answer.

Guilt is a feeling that is experienced when we do something that is wrong or that we feel is wrong. And you said that your girlfriend feels she cannot leave her boyfriend for you because of her guilt, which means she feels it is wrong to leave him and hurt him. However, she is in a relationship with you already, which could hurt her boyfriend if he found out. She is also proposing staying with this boyfriend even though she seems to not love him as much as she loves you, which is a disservice to him if that is true. So in that way, she is already doing two things to hurt him.

You may want to point out to her that she is unhappy in her relationship and in that way, she is hurting her boyfriend. She does not seem to want to be with him and that only hurts them both. Also, you may want to ask her what her intentions are with her current relationship. Is she planning on staying with her boyfriend forever unless he decides differently? If she intends on staying with him, why be in a relationship with you? If you can discuss these points with her, it may help clarify what she wishes to do.

She might also benefit from learning more about guilt. Guilt is sometimes used inappropriately to avoid making a decision that is life changing. It can keep you stuck where you are so you feel you do not make a mistake. In that way, your girlfriend might want to learn more about guilt so she can see that the guilt she feels for ending her relationship is misplaced. Not every relationship works out and sometimes it is better to let the other person go so they can find someone who wants to be with them. If your girlfriend realizes that, it might help her.

Here are some resources to help:

I hope this has helped you,
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 3 years ago.
I hope my answer was helpful to you. If you have any more questions, please let me know.


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, I looked through those websites, and I feel some of it quite describes her. I would still like to talk a little bit with you in order for me to get a better understanding of the situation.


Those two have been in a relationship for about seven years. For all that time, she has never really said she loved him, although she enjoys his company. She hasn't treated him well - amongst other things, she has cheated on him. The main thing that has blocked her in the beginning was to please her family (which is very important in the Chinese society). He has always been very patient with her. He seems hell-bent on never leaving her, no matter how much she hurts him. He seems to make his whole life about her, protecting her, and he has never really made any other girl friends saying he isn't interested.


Personally, I feel very bad about my relationship with her, but I also have this idea that if their relationship is so broken already, I'm actually making both of them a favour by forcing them to let go of each other. Perhaps this is my way of repressing my own guilt?


In addition, it seems their relationship has gotten a bit better lately, and I really don't know for sure what she wants anymore. Nor am I sure what I want... The whole situation is very confusing and it's taking its toll on me...


So there are actually two problems here I need help with:

First, I wonder if there's a way to help her deal with her guilt. Do you think she should just leave him and face the guilt? Or if the guilt is really unbearable to her, is it maybe better for her to just stay in that relationship, which might not really be so bad after all?

Second, I need some help sorting out my own emotions... if I knew that she would be much happier with me than with him, I would really fight for her. But if I don't know for sure what she wants, I feel staying with her is nothing but selfish of me. And if she can't deal with leaving him on her own, will her relationship with me be similar to it somehow?



Is it perhaps possible to chat with you in a more direct manner? That is, so you can ask me short questions, etc.?

Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 3 years ago.
There are two issues here. One is why she has so much guilt over leaving him if she has already cheated on him and two, what does she really want right now? Until she can decide if she wants to be with you and only you, everything is going to stay as it is now.

Without knowing the origin of her guilt, it is hard to say what would help her feel better. Learning more about guilt as I mentioned earlier is a good start. Therapy would also help. Her guilt could also be cultural which would require a different answer than just guilt because she has low self worth or shame issues. So starting with learning more about guilt (on her part) would help her a lot. She could find some answers that help her. You can encourage her by talking to her about resources and seeing if she is willing to discuss why she feels so guilty.

Second, if her relationship is improving and she is unsure what she wants, it is unlikely that your relationship with her is going to work out. She seems reluctant to make any decisions and when she seems willing to do so, she changes directions in her current relationship. That leaves you with no answers and always waiting for her to make up her mind.

Given what her situation is, it might be better to consider backing off for a while and either stay on your own or try to date others. That would give you a chance to decide what you want and also give her time to sort out her own issues.


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