Boyfriend is struggling, and she wants out

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

bio | email

DEAR AMY: Is it possible for me to break up with my live-in boyfriend without seeming like a total jerk? We have been dating for about four years and the relationship has been up and down. We have been going through the motions for months. He has been supportive of me going to school full time but has also struggled with alcoholism. He has a strained relationship with his parents and does not have any friends. My friends have repeatedly tried reaching out to him but all he is interested in is staying home and watching TV. Almost six months ago, his car was totaled in an accident and he was not reimbursed for the car. Almost two months ago, he lost his fairly well-paying job. I have been very supportive by letting him borrow my car to get to interviews and paying the rent with my meager paychecks. He is now about to start a job that doesn't pay very well. Our lease is up in two months and we were planning on moving to a new place together but I really don't want to! I would feel terrible leaving him with no car and barely able to support himself but I also feel that his irresponsibility with money is partly to blame for this situation. He doesn't really have anyone else who could help him, but does that mean I have to?--Still Care

DEAR STILL: If you are strategizing about breaking up with someone who also happens to be at a low point in his own life, you're going to have to face it: You will seem like a total jerk. But then you're going to have to be brave enough to do what you need to do, regardless of how you seem to others.

You can try to be a good friend to him while he is going through this rough patch, but the sooner you let him know that he will be on his own when the lease is up, the better.

What you should not do is blame him for this break -- even if you feel it is essentially his fault.