Miss Information

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Our lease is up in June. This would be an excellent time to break up, but am I inventing all of this?

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Dear Miss Information,

I think my girlfriend (of five years) is trying to passively leave me in the most half-assed way possible. She works at an ad company, and has terrible hours. One of our "issues" for like, the past 8 months has been her spending waaaaay too much time at work: she'll work, like, 12-12 some days.

With my new job (I work 6am-2pm five days a week), I can't really stay up that late, so I said to her that it'd be nice if she could redouble her efforts to not be at work all the time. And instead, she just spent the weekend at work–literally: she just did two full days there and will be going back in today. She agrees that her hours are insane, but she's gotten two raises in short order, which has kind of placated her.

My band played this show on Friday and she was supposed to go to some movie with a friend instead, which I was fine with. But then I found out she bailed on that, and didn't make it to my show—which is fine, I'm not going to get bent out of shape about that—but it just shows where her priorities are.

She'll give me cursory apologies about missing time together, and say she's tired. Which of course she is after a 60-hour work week. BUT she's admitted to me that she'll get done at like 10pm sometimes and hang out gabbing or drinking in the office until 12 or 1, which I think also says a lot.

FINALLY, I know she has this "forbidden mutual crush" thing with some dude there. She fell asleep in front of her computer one night and it was open to her gchats with this guy. He recently subscribed to me on Facebook—we're not friends in real life or on FB, but he wants to see what I put up?

We're both 25, neither of us really intended on getting married before our 30s, and we don't want kids. Our lease is up in June. This would be an excellent time to break up, but am I inventing all of this? I don't think she's as invested in the relationship as I am, and I can't keep doing the work for both of us. That said, I've always said that my only problem with my relationships is that I'm not single—am I using this an excuse to poison the well so I can be single again?

—Mr. Brightside

Dear Mr Brightside:

I recently read an article about the Buddhist practice of "wise speech." Grossly distilled, it amounts to asking yourself, "Is what I'm about to say true? Is it kind? Does it promote harmony (rather than aim to injure)? Is it worth taking to heart?" It's the kind of thing that I read, thought about for about five minutes, then sat up and went, "I…need to go make some calls."

"Wise speech" is undoubtedly a tough standard to hold oneself to, but your letter—with its undercurrent of, "can I trust this anger, or am I just hurt?"—makes you a good candidate for mulling this over. On top of the increasing distance in your relationship, it sounds like you two are falling victim to crossed wires.

If there is a hell, having to live with someone who seems ambivalent about their feelings toward you must be the closest thing we have this side of the River Styx. (This column brought to you by World Religions, apparently.) I'm fascinated by your admission that "the problem with your relationships is just that you're not single." That doesn't seem to compute with the kind of person who would sign on to a 5-year, live-in relationship. You're probably much less of a commitment-phobe than you might readily admit. You also say you feel like your girlfriend is less invested than you are, though your tone suggests you are pretty heavily "over" this whole relationship. And you're the one working to save it?

In short, Mr. Brightside, you might be finding reasons to drive wedges (her work crush, where she was last weekend, etc.), but that is a sign of a broader discontent. You wouldn't have lasted five years if you just wanted to be single. Similarly, you wouldn't be looking for snags (real or imagined) if you weren't already moving on in your head. The biggest problem, though, is that the whole situation sounds a lot like a feedback loop of you reacting to her reacting to you. To get the most clarity out of the situation, you'll need to short-circuit this loop. Wise speech, man.

I know you've tried talking about this on case-by-case bases (i.e. focused on her work schedule, or on her weekend flaking), but try approaching it instead from a whole-relationship perspective. She may not even be aware you are this alienated and unhappy. Tell her how you feel, and give her space to respond. Keep it non-confrontational, and try hard not to sling accusations. It will likely be a painful conversation, but will certainly be better than acting out of spite, or continuing to wonder whether your own judgment can be trusted.