My girlfriend and I are both 24 years old and have been together for nearly four years. Two years ago we were in a terrible car accident together. I was driving at the time, when an oncoming car swerved across our lane. I walked away with chronic back problems, but my girlfriend was critically injured. She spent two weeks in the hospital, where she had multiple surgeries to fix her broken arms and legs. She did eventually recover, but she has a very bad scar that runs the entire length of her face; she looks like a different person.
At the time, I struggled with extensive amounts of guilt over what had happened to her. I did everything to be a good boyfriend while she recovered; I worked closely with her through her rehabilitation and was always there for her. Once she was doing better, we started focusing on our relationship again. We've been making it work, with ups and downs of course, but overall we've been happy. However, in the last couple months, I've found myself longing for something else.
I care about my girlfriend deeply, and I think that we'll always have a connection, but I don't love her the same way I used to. Based on a few conversations, I know that my girlfriend and our families assume that we'll marry because of what's happened. I don't want to abandon her — she still copes daily with her appearance and physical pain — and I don't want to disappoint our families, but I'm just not sure that's what I want. Can I ever be forgiven if I walk away from this relationship?