Dear Captain Awkward:
About ten months ago, I started a relationship (a really-long-distance relationship with someone I met on a website). At first, and I have to be honest here, I was just fooling around, I couldn’t believe that you could actually fell in love with someone you don’t even know.
He was a “good guy”: sweet, romantic, funny, smart; I could say I had a crush on him. Eventually, he said he loved me. I was truly shocked, mostly because I was only fooling around and the guy was not. I’ll admit that I started having feelings for him, a crush, like I said. We started texting each other, talking over Skype, when I realized, I was in love. But there was one problem at that time: He doesn’t know my real name. Due to very personal reasons (related to my family), I never use my full (or real name, sometimes) on the internet.
I admit I let things go too far. So when he started taling about us being together in the future, and how I was the love of his life, and the future mother of his children, I started freaking out. I felt, and I still feel, like the worst fucking person on the face of the earth. I mean, how could I let things come to this? Why didn’t I walked away when it wasn’t too late?
So I broke up with him, about five moths ago, I couldn’t tell him the real reason, so I used my family crisis as an excuse to break up; I wasn’t in a good place, I couldn’t focus on a relationship (I really coudn’t focus on a relationship, anyway, but still…). So that’s when the whole thing got even worse.
You’ll see, he’s a depressive person. His mother died when he was really young, so he’s obviously scared as hell of being abandoned, he wants so desperately to have a family, he’s scared of being old and alone, he’s a virgin so he feels like a loser and he’s got a low self-esteem (I had no idea of this when I fell in love with him). He has told me several times of how his life makes no sense without me and how he would be capable of taking his own life if I’m not with him. The worst part? I know he would do it. I’ve heard that before, but I didn’t believe them at all. But with this guy, I just know he would do it, he tried to do it years ago, he feels so alone and useless and weak.
So we make up. I didn’t really wanted to do it, but I couldn’t do anything else, I didn’t know what to do.
For the last 5 months we have continued with this so-called relationship. But now, I don’t want to be with him anymore. I’m no longer in love with him. He’s a passive-agressive person, he keeps victimizing himself, telling me how bad I make him feel and telling me how much he cries when we have a fight (which happens all the time). We have nothing in common, we have nothing to talk about, he says I’m “too smart” and he can’t understand what I say, so he changes the subject. Most of the times the only thing we talk about is “I love you–I love you too”.
I can’t take this anymore. He has even gotten mad at me for not wanting to strip for him over Skype, and never apologized about it. He has made sexist comments about women and then says that I’m overreacting. A couple nights ago, we had a big arguement (precisely, about the deeply rooted sexism that carries “chivalry”) and he called me a sexist. I got pissed off, and told him that with the historical background of abuse every woman suffers, he’s not entitled of comparing me to the people who victimizes us. He couldn’t care less about my explanations, he just keep talking about how that had nothing to do with absolutely anything. When he realized I was angry he apologized, cried, let every on the social network we’re both in know how much he suffers and how sad he is, just so people could message me about how much of a horrible person I am and how I’m not appreciating him. This was the drop that spilled the glass.
It’s more than obvious I don’t want to be on this relationship anymore, he irritates me very often, I have no more respect for him, I don’t want to be with a passive-agressive sexist with a victim complex who has gotten into my mind and make me scared of saying how I feel because of his tendency to commit suicide.
He’s got lots of qualities, he can find a girl and be happy with her. But he says I’m the love of his life, the future mother of his children, that I am his only motivation to be better so he can “deserve” me (he has not yet finished high-school, and by the age we both have he should be finishing college by now).
I don’t know what to do. I still have feelings for him, despite on how much he hurts me. I’m no longer in-love, and I know I don’t want to be on a relationship like that. If I could change it all, I would do it. I would’ve never fell for him. I wouldn’t even have talked to him in the first place, I wouldn’t have make up with him out of guilt.
I’m in pain, though I feel like I deserve it for letting things go too far. I need an advice, I really do. I’m scared and unhappy. But I want him to be happy with someone else, I really do. He will never break up with me, and if I break up with him I’m scared he’ll kill himself and I just couldn’t put up with it.
I can’t live like this anymore. For the first time in my life, I don’t know what to do.
Thanks in advance, and pardon my poor English.
Your English is great. And you get to change your mind about whether you want to be with someone.
It feels cruel and unfair and arbitrary. But even if you’ve flirted, dallied, considered being with someone, liked them at one time, can see the good in them, made out with them, discussed future plans, dated, been in a relationship, etc….Even if they got very invested in you, you get to decide that it’s not working and leave when you want to leave. Wanting to end a relationship is a good enough reason to end the relationship. It can be a unilateral decision.
What you have is a combination of a manipulative person who threatens violence if you leave them (even if the violence is directed at themselves, it’s still violence) and a stalker. These people can be dislodged, but it takes time and will and patience. It is scary and completely out of bounds to make someone so responsible for your well-being that you would threaten to end your life to manipulate them into staying with you against their will. So the best thing you can do for yourself is to see this person not as an ally but as an adversary whose desires are fundamentally opposed to yours. He wants: Your attention at any cost. You want: Him to go away from your life. This is a contest, not a negotiation, and the sooner you think of it that way, the better.
First, I want you to gather together someone you trust to support and care for you and tell them everything that’s going on with this person. Have someone on your side who can have your back when things get tough. This can be a professional counselor, a friend, family. I think you need someone who is just on your side, someone who is only thinking about your safety and comfort.
Second, you might find Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear to be helpful. It has a really strong chapter on stalking and what to do about someone who has become very fixated on you.
Third, your script for this person goes something like this:
My feelings toward you have changed, and I am ending our relationship. I am asking you sincerely and directly to respect my wishes for a truly clean break, so that we can both heal and move on with our lives. This means I must ask you not to contact me again. I wish only good things for you, and hope you will be well.”
Then you block him everywhere. And you do not reply to him no matter what he says or does. You avoid places where will be. You hide all the feeds on social media where you might encounter him. If he harms himself, that is not your fault.
If you have mutual friends, give them a heads-up:
“I recently broke off my relationship with _____. It was a difficult decision, but it is a final one, and we will not be keeping in touch. You can help me by respecting my decision to make a truly clean break and not passing messages or information back and forth. You can help _____ by checking on him and perhaps steering him toward mental health resources. Thanks for your understanding.“
You don’t have to use all of it – save the mental health stuff for people who are actually close to him – but communicating the finality of the decision and asking them not to try to serve as go-betweens is important.
This may really test those relationships. If those “friends” call you cruel and pressure you to stay in a relationship that you don’t want to be in, they are not safe for you and you don’t have to worry about what they think or do what they say. “I know ____ is very upset, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep dating someone I don’t love. If you care about him, please recommend that he see a therapist to treat his depression.”
Do not talk to him again. And do not talk to anyone who tries to make you talk to him again. You are done with him and with anyone who would pressure you on his behalf.
He is caught up in fear of The Worst Thing In The World and not seeing you clearly at all. He’s decided that you are a miracle cure for all the bad things that have ever happened to him and the key to all his dreams. It’s not realistic or healthy for either of you. It would have always been too much pressure. It would be a terrible tragedy if he harmed himself, but that’s not something that you are making happen with your decisions. That’s something he’s deciding to do in order to manipulate you. Or because he’s in pain. Pain that you cannot remove from him.
You can’t fake-be in love with someone just to try to save them from their own demons. You can’t love someone out of their own untreated depression and fear of abandonment. Your guilt is not a substitute for love. Even if it were possible for you to fix his sadness, it’s not something you can accomplish while you’re a hostage.
But you can, with great will and courage, save yourself from a relationship that is draining and harming you and forcing you to lie. You get to choose to save yourself.