My situation is one you’ve read a thousand times or more, but luckily I’m unmarried without kids. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about a year now. Three months into our relationship, I found out he had a secret girlfriend in Germany. I showed him grace and forgave him (classic mistake) and allowed him a second chance, believing his BS explanations as to why he’s actually not a terrible person. I believed him when he stared into my eyes and told me he loved me and that we would be honest with one another from that moment forward. Little did I know he continued to disrespect me by exchanging nude photos on Snapchat with an ex from high school just two weeks later, and was gaslighting me about it for 9 months.
Fast forward through a year of me being completely disoriented and just damn confused, in denial and unwilling to accept he just sucks, making every excuse under the sun for his abuse, alcoholism, womanizing, etc. to now. COVID and some other poor choices under pressure led me to agree to live with him, once again chasing that hopium that things would change. It was a bad idea, to the surprise of no one.
Before I get into the current situation, I want to say I KNOW I DID THIS TO MYSELF. I know so much more now, and I’m grateful for these hard-learned lessons because I have learned how to love myself and what boundaries are and those lessons are priceless. This is not the issue at hand.
The current issue is now I want to leave, I’ve wised up finally and realize this relationship has nothing to offer me. He has changed, but it’s too late for me. I want to move out, but he has confided in me that he is suicidal. He is seeing a therapist (at my nagging) and had his first session last week. I encouraged him to open up about it to the therapist at his next session. I think he is genuine in his suicidal ideations, I don’t suspect it is an attempt to manipulate me. But also, I have come to realize I am a bit trusting and I guess I just don’t want to believe someone would do something so terrible as to manipulate via contemplating suicide. How do I even determine what is true?
I don’t know what to do. I understand that he isn’t my responsibility, yet why am I hesitant to leave someone who has treated me so poorly in their time of need? How do I leave something like this ethically, with kindness? Do I notify his dad who lives near by so he can check in on him? Do I wait a few months until he’s further into therapy? Am I not allowed to leave someone when they’re suicidal?
I’m very anxious. I don’t want to be with him, but I don’t want him to die.
Dear Held Hostage,
Your name says it all. This is a classic abuser move — threaten suicide when your chump tries to leave. You can read that link there from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It’s a threat. Ostensibly he’s threatening himself (DARVO, he’s the real victim here), but it’s also an implied threat to you — he’ll resort to violence if he doesn’t get his way.
Abusers threaten suicide as a form of control, a way to punish you, and try to make you feel responsible for him.
Of course you are not a doctor, and you can’t tell if he’s seriously having a mental health crisis, or is an abusive fuckwit, or both.
My advice to chumps in this situation is to take all suicide threats seriously. Call 911 and have them committed for an involuntary 48-hour psych evaluation. If they meant it, they’ll get the help they need, if they didn’t, they won’t pull that shit again.
I’m grateful for these hard-learned lessons because I have learned how to love myself and what boundaries are and those lessons are priceless. This is not the issue at hand.
Oh no, it’s totally the issue at hand. The woman who loves herself is the woman who leaves this creep. The woman who knows what boundaries are knows she is NOT responsible for him or his piss-poor choices, his moods, his whims, his German girlfriend, his high school girlfriend, or what socks he chooses to wear this morning.
The Issue At Hand is YOU MATTER. Act like it, and get far, far away from this guy. Live to see another priceless lesson. Not to scare you further, but we have a long-time CN member, Tessie, whose ex killed himself. He also shot and killed their 12-year-old son.
Volatile people who make threats are not partners, or roommates. They’re in-patients. Or under arrest.
Take your personal safety seriously and get OUT. Don’t tell him, just do it.
He is seeing a therapist (at my nagging) and had his first session last week.
You had to nag him to see a therapist? That’s you taking responsibility for him. That’s you investing in him. That’s you doing the work that HE should be doing. That’s a chump who hasn’t learned her lesson.
I encouraged him to open up about it to the therapist at his next session.
You can’t control him. You can only control you. What he says to therapist, or if he goes to therapists is on him.
I think he is genuine in his suicidal ideations, I don’t suspect it is an attempt to manipulate me. But also, I have come to realize I am a bit trusting and I guess I just don’t want to believe someone would do something so terrible as to manipulate via contemplating suicide.
Well, he’s the same guy who manipulated you with a secret girlfriend in Germany. And the double life on Snapchat. And the nude photo swaps. I think it’s fair to say, Hostage, that there’s a LOT you don’t know about him. But what you DO know is 100% pure USDA-grade manipulative asshole. So yeah, absolutely he would do something so terrible. Terrible is his basic operating system.
I don’t know what to do.
You do know what to do. You just don’t want to do it. You have to kick him to the curb and focus on yourself and do the hard work of why this fuckwit ever had any power over you.
I understand that he isn’t my responsibility, yet why am I hesitant to leave someone who has treated me so poorly in their time of need?
That’s a skein worth untangling. Why do you feel invested in someone so utterly unworthy of you? You owe him NOTHING. Seriously — NOTHING. Lay that burden DOWN.
How do I leave something like this ethically, with kindness?
Did he treat you ethically with kindness when he cheated on you? Gaslighted you?
Right, I get it. You want to be the better person. (A better person he will just devalue as much as a lousy or mediocre person.) Okay, the ETHICAL thing to do is LEAVE HIM. Because only by levying meaningful consequences will he have the opportunity to change and get help. Losing awesome you is a consequence of his ABUSE. He needs to learn that his actions have repercussions. Denying him that keeps him comfy in his entitlement and self-destruction.
Do I notify his dad who lives near by so he can check in on him?
No. He’s an adult. He can call his own father. You are NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIM.
Do I wait a few months until he’s further into therapy?
NO. Put down the hopium pipe!
Am I not allowed to leave someone when they’re suicidal?
YES. Do it. DO IT NOW.