YOU ARE THE ADVICE COLUMNIST: When Can I Break Up With My Recently Disabled Boyfriend?

Should I wait a few more months until I'm sure that he's stable enough to handle things on his own?
Publish date:
July 2, 2013

About six months ago, my boyfriend of a year had a horrible accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down and permanently wheelchair-bound. No one knows this, but I had been preparing to break up with him before he was injured for a myriad of reasons. Obviously, I did what I'm pretty sure anyone else would do, and put those feelings aside to try and give him some semblance of normalcy throughout this incredibly hard time in his life. I know that it's a kind of questionable thing to do to lie to him about my desire to be with him, but it felt a lot less wrong than any other alternative.

We're both 21 and in college, which is far away from his hometown and family, and while he has friends, most have definitely done kind of a disappearing act since the accident. I have become his best friend, caretaker, mother, and girlfriend all in one. I love him so dearly and his happiness has been my number one priority for half a year now, but I'm starting to feel an extreme desire to break up with him, move on with my life and focus on myself. I feel incredibly selfish for this. It doesn't help that his friends and family are always insinuating that I'm some kind of hero for staying with him. I can't talk to anyone about it because I'm so afraid they'll think the reason I want to break up with him is because of his paralysis, when really we had been having a huge amount of problems since before he got hurt.

My question is, should I wait a few more months until I'm sure that he's stable enough to handle things on his own? He is independent as far as his daily tasks go, but he needs a lot of love and reassurance to keep from being too depressed. He tells me every day that I'm the only thing keeping him happy and that he doesn't know what he'd do without me, et cetera, so I don't think I'm overestimating my role in his emotional well-being. Or is it SO wrong to have stayed with him out of "pity" (not the right word, but you get it) that I should end it as soon as possible? And in either case, how do I handle it in the most sensitive and caring way possible? And, to a lesser extent because I know I shouldn't be worried about this because it is definitely selfish, how do I deal with all our mutual friends who will probably think I'm a terrible person for breaking up with my disabled boyfriend? And his family, who I've gotten so close to since everything happened?

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