#371: “How do I end this misery?”

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.

Dear Sel:

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:

Dear ____,

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.

90 thoughts on “#371: “How do I end this misery?”

  1. 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

    Sel, that’s really really good, because I don’t want you to be in this relationship either. He doesn’t deserve to know your real name.

    (And I wouldn’t worry about that in the future. Use whatever name makes you feel safe. You’re not lying to anybody any more than when the friend who was introduced to you as Jimbob quietly tells you that he much prefers to be called Oscar. It doesn’t matter if the name on his birth certificate is Sarah. If, in the future, I ask you to call me by my real name instead of Elodie, then you, being a reasonable human being, will say “Oh, okay.” End tangent.)

    Even if it were possible for you to fix his sadness, it’s not something you can accomplish while you’re a hostage.

    YES YES YES RUN RUN RUN GO GO GO. Turn off your computer and go downtown and buy yourself a new book and a cup of hot spiced drink and sit in the corner and be with your deep and beautiful self. You’re free. Hurray!

    1. Briefly, I second the reassurance to the LW about the name thing. I moved to another city, got a job, made friends, and did not give my legal name to any of those people except for on paperwork. The man I married knows me better by my username than my legal name. There is nothing improper about dealing with someone online via a non-real name unless you explicitly claim that it is your Actual Legal Name (or are trying to fake being someone else, which clearly isn’t the deal here).

      Legal names are important when you need to fill out paperwork. Like, say, marriage certificates. Otherwise, there is really no big ethical problem with going by a different name. Especially when you’re still working out if someone is safe! Which, well. This person clearly isn’t.

      1. Thirded. And LW, use that as a reassurance to yourself, actually, that you didn’t give him your real name.

        You never felt safe enough with him to give him your real name. That’s a signal to you. You can’t keep being with him. And he doesn’t know you well enough to make you responsible for his well-being. (There’s really NEVER such a thing as knowing someone well enough for them to be responsible for your well-being, but especially not someone you’ve known on the internet for less than a year and whose real name you don’t know.)

      2. Very, very true. There are many cultures where legal names actually aren’t hugely important – I went to a high school that had quite a lot of students from South East Asia who picked up English names when they came here, for example. It frustrates me how hard it can be to change a name in the Western world, I changed mine legally last year both for gender presentation reasons and to get a less unusual surname and there are still various companies that use my old name because to update their records I’d have to jump through a ton of hoops that I just can’t be bothered with. I have plenty of friends whose legal names I don’t know, I have friends who only found out mine once I’d legally changed it and others who might still not know.

        On the internet especially I find it fascinating that we tell kids not to give out personal information, and then when people grow up there’s this big fuss about pseudonyms being JUST LIKE LYING. No. No, it’s really not. I just don’t like people ringing me at home to argue with me.

        1. Seconding the frustration of how hard it is to legally change your name in the Western world (I often got the feeling, however, that it’s rather easy to change your name in the US – is that true?). After my parents’ divorce when I was sixteen I wanted to take my mother’s maiden name – she herself changed back to it and since she’s probably the person I’m closest to and I don’t have much / do not want to have much to do with my father I feel like her maiden name and thus the name of my “real” family is my name. Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to change it, even when I turned eighteen and thereby was off age because I was born in wedlock and my last name is the “family name” and couldn’t be changed. Still banging my head over that because what – if my mother remarried I could take that man’s name but I’m not allowed to take her actual name? Not cool.

          Most people on the internet only know me by my (always the same) username and that’s cool. I found a group of friends whom I’ve since also met in real life several times and some of who still call me by my username (or rather, an abbreviation of it) – to be fair, that’s mostly got to do with one of them having the same first name as I do and so confusion can be avoided but I don’t feel like that’s lying in any way. Think of it as a fun nickname (as a person who never had a nickname I really enjoy that^^).

          1. I’m in the US and after really wanting to do it for years, I finally went ahead and changed my legal name. It was tedious but not difficult. There was a small fee and I had to put a reason on the application form. (I put “personal preference”.) Then the judge’s secretary made me a nice certificate with a seal on it, and I went around to the Social Security office and the motor vehicle place to get a new social security card and driver’s license (which is the de facto form of government photo ID here in the U.S.). After I had that, I did banks, utilities, and credit cards.

            It turns out they’re very used to changing people’s last names, because of married women taking their husband’s last name, but not so much first names. I changed both so it was slightly more tedious, but still SO SO worth it. I wished I’d done it years earlier!

          2. Another vote here from someone in the US on the ‘it’s more annoying than hard’ description. I changed my last name when I got married. There were a number of situations where the paperwork I needed had my maiden name on it, so I just presented a photocopy of the marriage license along with it and explained why the names no longer matched. No-one so much as batted an eyelash.

            I’m surprised to hear it’s so much more difficult elsewhere. Here you can pick a name, any name, and go with it. It’s just a lot of paperwork. And you might get laughed at if you choose something truly bizarre. But that’s it. (There was actually a news clip a few days ago about a derp-tastic bomb scare – someone who had legally changed his name to Natural Hunka Kaboom left his homemade walking stick – labeled with his full name – in a public area and someone interpreted it as a threat. I ❤ the security state…)

          3. It’s pretty normal that one party changes their last name when people get married here, too, and that has never been a big deal bureaucracy-wise so I’m not really sure why a person who has parents with two different last names can’t choose to take the other one if they like it better. The rules on changing your last name (first name isn’t even mentioned anywhere) in situations other than marriage or adoption are very strict and only allow you to change your name when you’re related to a murderer or rapist or other dangerous criminals and can’t bear to carry that name around (though that completely ignores that there might be other reasons you can’t carry a person’s name around, be it only superbad experiences you had with that person) or if you’ve got a really stupid name that will make you the object of ridicule everywhere you go. It’s really a shame sometimes
            And thanks you two (oh, and Ali below me!) for explaining and giving me a better understanding of how exactly that process works in the US!

          4. In the US it also depends a lot on the state. I found it fairly tedious (changed middle and last names, kept my given first name), but I changed it because I wanted to, not because I got married. Doing it via marriage is much easier in all states as far as I know. The worst part was trying to get new documents for everything–birth certificate, passport, license.

          5. I… actually can’t remember how I went about getting my new license. I don’t specifically remember doing anything special for it, and yet I have one there in my wallet. Birth certificate is the document they send you out here standard, with your new details and your previous name listed as born as or something like that.

            The annoying thing for changing bank accounts, health insurance, etc, is that they want me to photocopy that certificate, no problem, and then get it notorised by a Justice of the Peace, which is a pain in the arse, esp since I have social phobia and I hate making phone calls to strangers. (Last year when I had it done it was also difficult to find them because so many people had moved around and none of the phone directories were up to date.) At some point I’ll have to get around to just getting a pile of them done, but at the moment I changed banks shortly after I changed my name so only my savings and credit card are in my old name and I just have to remember the other places that still have it.

          6. This is why, when I legally changed my name via the courts, I printed up extra copies of the final court order and got them all signed/notarized/certified at once right away … so I always have a spare Official Copy without having to deal with anybody official.

            Note: changing names by marriage only is “easy” if you do the default thing where the woman takes the man’s surname. Anything else is a giant fucking pain in the arse and I would recommend just doing legal fucking name changes via the courts.

            Yes, I discovered that the hard way when my first husband and I took a new, joint last name together on our marriage license. Relatedly, this is why I did not at all take Mr. Lime’s last name when we got married recently – I swore I’d never change it again after last time.

          7. Sorry to hear it’s so hard for you to do where you are, Myrin. That sucks. There was a guy in the city I live (in the US) who changed his name from Earl Something or Other to “The Scary Guy.” Your mother’s last name was probably not that out there.

          8. There’s someone here who changed theirs to Spyda Hunter and there’s a story about someone who changed their surname to “for Mayor” and then ran for Mayor as a joke, but I can’t remember whether it was actually true. (I do know that you can’t use a title as your FIRST name here, so no Lords or Doctors. There’s a couple of other restrictions too but most things are fine.)

          9. I’m from Texas and I once (hilariously) met a woman whose name was The Reverend Doctor Jones. That was also her title. She introduced herself to me like so: “Hello, I am The Reverend Doctor Jones, and my title is The Reverend Doctor Jones.”

            Her doctorate was a J.D.

            ALso in Texas, though, you can use any kind of name you want as long as it is without intent to defraud someone. So, my mom and her brother were both adopted by their stepdad, so their LEGAL last name was “Smith.” But my uncle always called himself by his biological dad’s last name, “Jones”. It was perfectly legal, even for paying taxes.

          10. In at least my state (California), you can just use a different name and that’s fine. You still have to use your “legal” name for your taxes, etc, but if you pick a name and use it consistently it is not considered fraud, it’s just a “common usage” name change. (You can also go to court and have it changed legally. It then varies by state how they handle the original birth certificate.)

            I have done this in a small way. When I graduated from college I added a second middle name (my mother’s birth last name) and as far as I’m concerned, my full name has four parts. My state tax forms come with all four names, while my federal tax forms only use my original 3 names. I didn’t do anything thru the courts, just that “common usage” thing.

          11. In theory we have that here but almost everywhere if you want your name changed on your records (private companies etc) they want to see the copy of the deedpoll, so I have no idea how you’d actually use a different name on anything at all.

  2. Amazingly good advice from the Captain, as always. It is very important for the LW to realize that there is nothing wrong with her for wanting to get the fucke away from this person, and that there is something very wrong with this person that they need to address for their own good, but which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the LW.

    BTW, since there were no comments permitted on the last post, I wanted to congratulate you on this:

    But we are consistently in the top 100 blogs on WordPress, often in the top 25.

    That is fucken amazing and awesome, and a testament to the deep wisdom of this blogge!

  3. Everything the Captain said. Also, LW, I was going to make a comment about how truly manipulative people can convince you that they will really hurt themselves when they actually have no intention of doing so, but you know what? Even if he were to really do it, it’s still not your fault and not your problem. If ONE PERSON is the only thing between someone and suicide, that someone has problems that ONE PERSON cannot fix.

    This guy is using guilt to hold you hostage. He figures that now he’s got you, he doesn’t have to even pretend to be a considerate, sweet, thoughtful guy. He figures he can try and bully you into doing things you don’t want to do.

    Once you hit send on that email and block him (block him before you send the email–block him and then send the email ASAP), you will feel much, much better.

    Many jedi hugs to you!

    1. If ONE PERSON is the only thing between someone and suicide, that someone has problems that ONE PERSON cannot fix.

      Word. I went through a similar thing with my ex – it was hard, because I didn’t even have the satisfaction of knowing that she was a jerk; she just needed me more than I needed her, and when it came down to it, I just didn’t want to be in the relationship anymore. It took several tries, but I’m out, and much less stressed as a result. You can do it!

    2. When I was 18, a boy my age, a foreign exchange student from Ghana, asked me to marry him. We had been dating and I liked him a lot, but I wasn’t in love with him. I said I’d have to think about it. He replied that if I refused, he was going to kill himself. I politely backed away and avoided him for the rest of both our lives. And he killed himself. I didn’t find out about it until years later, and I felt pretty bad about it.

      Nowadays, many years later, I feel a little sad about his death, because he was so young and he didn’t give himself a second chance, but I DIDN’T KILL HIM. He did that. It was a lousy choice, but it was his idea.

      I don’t think the LW’s former boyfriend is actually going to kill himself, although you never know, and it might be worthwhile to take it seriously and call his local police station about it after you cease all contact with him. If he’s not really going to do it, it might stop him from pushing that particular button. If he really was serious about killing himself, the police have to send somebody to investigate, so it could save his life. I didn’t know about that 40 years ago or my former b/f might be alive now, but it’s still not my fault. And it would not be yours, LW, if he did follow through on his threat.

      1. I wasn’t sure about putting this story here. A friend of mine from way back had an abusive wife. I never knew the details, but I know she posed as him in his email and told all his friends he never wanted to talk to them again. Classic. I think they were separating, I’m not sure, but she did kill herself and left him a 20 page suicide note. I was so mad at her. That was an act of violence and rage.

        And it was her choice. Never his. LW, if he does kill himself, it is all on his head. Not yours.

  4. Oh LW, I feel for you. You didn’t do anything wrong. You have the right to leave a relationship for any reason, including just not feeling it anymore–and what he does after that is absolutely not your fault. Whatever happens, remember that.

  5. 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”.

    You do not owe this guy anything, LW, full stop — but if you need a reason behind that to help you stick to your good decision to cut ties, you can find it in what you told us right here. Despite the empty words, he does not, in fact, love you. He loves having someone to do feelingsdumps on. He doesn’t really even know you — and I don’t say this because you guys don’t have an IRL relationship, I say it because he doesn’t even want to hear your thoughts or feelings, instead dismissing them by saying you’re “too smart” for him. He’s actually right on that last bit, though — you are too smart for him, because you see what he is not capable of seeing: that this isn’t working. You deserve someone who loves YOU, not whatever it is they think they are getting out of the idea of you.

  6. LW, you have my deepest sympathy, and I just want to say how glad I am for you THAT YOU NEVER LET THIS PERSON INTO YOUR REAL LIFE! As scary as trying to protect your online world from him is (and I don’t minimize the very real feelings -and potential danger- that go along with online relationships for one moment), trying to get away from the deeply troubled and the deeply fixated and manipulative when they know where you live, where you work, what your true daily identity is, is very very dangerous and horrifying. Count that toward your good luck. The Captain’s advice is very sound. You are free (and guilt-free) to follow your best self-interests in getting 100% away from this person.

    (Also, don’t worry about the quality of your English; you express yourself very clearly and eloquently : )

    1. I too am so, so grateful that you never told him your legal name. Hopefully you can work out the online stuff, but at least your ‘real’ life stuff is safe from him, because he sounds like SERIOUS BAD NEWS.

      1. I’m recalling now, too, an experience I had a few years ago getting on the wrong side of an online troll with a hate blog. They probably couldn’t have gotten a hold of my RL ID or done more than malicious petty harm, but it was very very upsetting and disturbing at the time. And there was the aspect of “who were they talking to and who would side with *them*???” I think of the poor kids who get cyber-bullied on FB etc, and I know it’s a truly psychologically and emotionally devastating experience. And they are impressionable children and I’m middle-aged and should know better.

        But a large part of it is how easy getting sucked into the online world is; and the thing is, you really really can Just. Walk. Away. No-one’s gonna vandalize your car or boil your pet bunny or TP your house or show up at your job or plant drugs in your purse. LW, I highly highly recommend, once you cut ties with this guy, to take a big fat computer break. Put as much time into whatever RL activities, friendships, museum visits, gym time, book-reading, sweater-knitting, cooking etc give you pleasure and get you away from the internet.

  7. Good luck, Sel! You’re already brave and clear-headed about this – the rest might start out with some awful but will eventually be SO worth it.

  8. I wish I had this advice 10 years ago!

    LW, I’ve been there and done that, and I have so much sympathy for you. This guy sounds just like my Darth Vader boyfriend, except we actually lived together, and I kept him around for years after I’d fallen out of love with him. Leaving him was SO HARD, one of the hardest things I’ve done. He threatened suicide over and over again. He even faked suicide on the phone/gchat with me…several times. Those were some of the worst times I’ve ever been through.

    But, in the end, he didn’t do it – he was faking. And even if he had? I would have felt horrible, but it Wasn’t My Fault. Just as leaving this guy is Not Your Fault. You’re not – you can’t be – his everything.

    This “relationship” is doing neither of you any good right now. No, not even him, even though he thinks so (or convinces you he thinks so). The sooner you leave, the sooner *both* of you will be able to heal.

    Sending ALL the Jedi Hugs your way.

  9. Dear LW, I feel for you, I really do. But you are NOT responsible for this guy’s happiness or mental health, please believe me. You did not go down to the Facebook Shelter for Emotionally Troubled Puppies and sign a gazillion forms that said you would take care of him forever and ever and ever. And for YOUR happiness and mental health, you have to walk away from him right now, no matter what he threatens to do to himself.

    And those ‘friends’ who think you should stick it out with an emotionally abusive guy who doesn’t show you the slightest bit of respect or consideration? They’re not friends, they’re arseholes.

    1. LW, if people are telling you that you are letting a great guy get away, or blaming you for his emotional pain, they are Not Safe People. I dated a man who behaved the same way, when we would fight he would whine and complain and cry to anyone who listened. His friends thought that gave them the right to be rude and threatening to me.
      It is not worth it to try to explain to these people why you feel the need to leave him. You probably feel terrible that his friends/mutual friends will dislike you because of this. It is okay to be disliked. I know it sucks and it hurts, but you will make it easier on yourself if you don’t even try to engage with these rude people who want to know why you’re leaving him so they can tell you how wrong you are. Besides, everything you say to these people will probably get back to him at some point.

    2. “the Facebook Shelter for Emotionally Troubled Puppies”

      OMFSM, this, and their sister organization, Reddit’s Foster Home for Eternal Victims.

      1. Oh god, that sounds like a hell-scape version of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.

        Is the Facebook Shelter down the street from Ye Olde Funny Cat Pictures Emporium? 😀

        1. I LOVE Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends so much. Theme tune used to stick in my head for weeks at a time.

    3. A bajillion likes to the Facebook Shelter for Emotionally Troubled Pupples – can we also agree that those puppies leave the most awful and smelly FEELINGSDUMPS ever?

      1. And hump your leg in the supermarket, then give you a betrayed look when you tell them to get off. Yup.

    4. You did not go down to the Facebook Shelter for Emotionally Troubled Puppies and sign a gazillion forms that said you would take care of him forever and ever and ever.

      I love this! Whatever happens, his decisions are HIS decisions, and your decisions are YOURS, and you need to make the right ones for you.

    5. Even if someone does knowingly adopt an Emotionally Troubled Puppy, all reputable shelters have return policies! No-one expects you to keep a dog when it’s Just Not Working, Despite Efforts. It’s hell for you and not good for the dog either. Exactly the same thing is true with humans, with the bonus that they can find their way back to the shelter on their own.

      1. Plus, you know, humans aren’t mentally and physically helpless puppies. There’s that, too.

        1. This ^ and this ^

          Although sometimes they need interventions to be convinced to consider the possibility : P

  10. I want to reply to the part of your letter where you say “I feel like I deserve it for letting things go too far”. You don’t. It’s okay that you flirted over the internet. The initial misunderstanding where you thought you were just non-seriously flirting over the internet and he thought you were the love of his life is NOT YOUR FAULT.

    This happens with in-person relationships, too. If you flirt non-seriously, and the other person takes it the wrong way, that doesn’t mean you owe them your deep, undying love. Obviously it’s best to avoid such misunderstandings but lots of us have been innocently blind-sided by somebody’s affection at some point. It happens, and when it happens, saying “Whoa! Back off there” is just fine.

    In your case, you definitely need to dump him, and you also really need to understand that this isn’t your fault. I second the captain’s advice on how to separate yourself from the guy at this point.

    1. Plus, it is a well-known tactic of emotionally abusive partners to rush a dating-prospect into calling something a “relationship” and “true love” when it is at best premature because they just don’t know each other well enough to call it anything of the sort and at worst completely absurd because what they do know about each other would suggest to any rational observer that these two people are NOT meant to be together… like you, an intelligent, self-respecting woman and this guy, who gets pissy when you won’t strip for him over Skype and says nasty sexist things. (Yuck).

      The fact that he stuck those labels on you and your mutual scoping-out does NOT mean you led him on and he is your heartbroken victim. It means he wanted to get control over you, and he used the fact that you are a nice person against you, by calling it love when it wasn’t, knowing that as a nice person you would feel like it was too hurtful to say “Actually, I don’t love you. I was just flirting!” So you’d let it go on, and he could steadily up the ante until he could use the “love of my life,” “destined mother of my children” and ultimately “woman I’ll kill myself if I can’t have” bludgeons to batter you into staying in a relationship you didn’t and don’t belong in.

      Do not fall for this crap. He does not love you, at least not according to any healthy definition of love. He wants you in his life, yes, but that is a very different thing, and has nothing to do with mutual happiness — certainly not *your* happiness.

      You think he’ll really try to kill himself? I think he’s just really, really good at playing this sick game. I bet you he’s done this before and will do it again. He may even have someone else he’s playing the game with right now.

      When you waver about cutting him off as Captain Awkward has recommended, picture this going on for another year… two years… a decade… the rest of your life. Would that be ok? Of course not!!!!! Is *he* ever going to end it? No!!!! That means it is always going to be up to you to end it, with him fighting tooth and nail using all his manipulative tactics including social pressure and Geek Social Fallacies.

      Is it remotely possible for you to fix him and then dump him? No!!!! Aside from the fact that there would be something really creepy about sticking around to get him healthy so you could guiltlessly dump him, you can’t fix him!!! You sticking around will only validate his horrible manipulative way of treating women. So if it is going to be up to you to end it, and it is always going to be unpleasant, you may as well get on with it so you can get it behind you and move forward with your life, with this guy getting smaller and smaller in your rear view mirror.

      1. It means he wanted to get control over you, and he used the fact that you are a nice person against you, by calling it love when it wasn’t, knowing that as a nice person you would feel like it was too hurtful to say “Actually, I don’t love you. I was just flirting!”

        A million times this. Many manipulative men use women’s socialization to be “nice” against them, as we see in all the rape apologist nonsense on the internets (“But what if he was just following you to be NICE? You hurt his feelings!”). This is someone who took advantage of you, Sel — you don’t owe him anything. He owes you respect, but he’s never going to do that, so get out and don’t feel guilty about it.

      2. That is so true, alphakitty. I know someone who had the suicide thing pulled on her after FOUR days in the “relationship”. It’s amazing she went for it, what can I say, she’s a shrink and obviously needed to be needed at that time, but this has been one sick and miserable relationship ever since, and LW you should not ever get into anything like that. Anyone who threatens suicide because of something you did or said should be dumped Right Now..

  11. LW, I am so sorry you got sucked into this situation. It’s not your fault! You met a guy who seemed nice and cool and you had a thing, and then you ended it for perfectly valid reasons of your own.*

    He pressured you into a relationship you don’t want. He pressures you to perform that relationship you don’t want, in ways you don’t want. When you get upset about it, he starts by telling you that you must be wrong, and if you hold your ground he turns it into manipulative guilt marathons all over the internet. Your fear that he’ll kill himself is what he’s using to keep you around. He’s set you up in this impossible position where you’re supposed to fix him by being exactly what he wants. You can’t! And even if you were exactly what he wants, it wouldn’t fix him.

    I hope you can get away, far away. Clean break, block, change your phone number if you have to, take out a PO box for real mail, whatever you need to do.

    What he’s done is so, so not okay. Not okay! He shouldn’t treat you like that! He shouldn’t drag other people into it by whining all over the internet! I am so angry for you!!

    I believe you that there’s something good about him. It’s not going to come out when you’re around, though. He’s not going to live up to you, he’s just going to drag you down to his level and blame you for it.

    Take good care of yourself. You are awesome.

    * Although in the future you can say to someone, maybe about when you are making plans to meet in person, “I use an alias online, always, with no exceptions. In person, though, my name is Mary.” And anyone who gets all worked up doesn’t need to meet you after all. You can also continue with your alias when meeting them in person but you might share real details about when other kinds of intimacy start to happen.

    This thing about your name has NOTHING to do with this jerk. I’m putting it here in case you’re worrying about next time or if it’s your fault or anything. It’s not.

  12. Oh, LW, you’re like parallel-universe me. I’ve commented about this topic before – I was in an awful, clingy, emotionally manipulative LDR, with the added fun of me driving across the country twice in one month to save Teh Victim from His Feelings. Cap’s advice is spot on, as usual, but I would just like to tell you the slightly different things I did to extricate myself from a similar situation.

    1. I got Teh Victim to agree to counseling.

    2. I did a conference call session with Teh Victim and his new counselor, in an attempt to set boundaries.

    (At this point, I still thought the relationship could be saved. When I realized that was impossible, I …)

    3. Called his counselor and told him I was removing myself from Teh Victim’s life, permanently and forever.

    4. Emailed Teh Victim’s parents with the same message (We had met on my previous 2 trips).

    5. Emailed Teh Victim re: Goodbye Forever.

    6. Blocked ALL the things and hid from the internet for a solid month. I also turned off my cell phone and used a burner phone from Wal Mart to contact immediate, real people in my life (mom, sis, co-workers, etc). T-Mobile allowed me to turn off voice mail so I didn’t even have to delete any messages.

    It was hard. I felt sick and guilty for the first week, but Team Me rallied around me and reminded me that it was never my job to wave my Manic Pixie Dream Girl wand over Teh Victim’s life and solve all of his problems forever. Gradually the pain subsided. Now it’s like a dull burn that sometimes flares up, like when I hear about one of his favorite authors or more often, when I see or hear someone acting like him.

    As a human being, your “victim” is totally deserving of health and wholeness and happiness, but those are not “things” that your presence in his life can give him. He has to find them on his own.

    1. Amen, amen, amen. I have been down so much of this road, except instead of using her suicidality and abandonment triggers to manipulate me, my partner chose to take responsibility for her depression and we got our boundaries together. She made a choice to heal; your guy made a choice to stay broken in a bid to keep you tied to him. Even in the grip of despair, he has choices–depression does not remove the ability to choose or prevent us from taking responsibility or erase the difference between yourself and someone else. As long as he is making you or anyone else the shield between him and his pain, he will not figure out how to manage the pain himself, and until he is ready to do that he will continue to use his pain to draw in new shields/victims.

      So please, those scripts that are running in your head about how you let it get to this point? Please tell them no. You didn’t make this happen, you didn’t make his choices for him, you didn’t pressure him. He pressured you, and if he hadn’t gone down this road with you, he would have gone down it with someone else.

      1. “Depression does not remove the ability to choose or prevent us from taking responsibility or erase the difference between yourself and someone else.”

        A thousand times yes. I deal with fairly severe depression, and it took a serious toll on my relationship while I was in the middle of getting counseling and medication. The thing is, I love my boyfriend in a way that doesn’t depend on making him feel as shitty as possible so he won’t leave me. I want him – and me – to be happy, so actually, seeing how miserable I was making both of us and how thin the ice was that our relationship was on was a huge part of why I got more insistent with getting help. My mental illness is not a club with which to beat my boyfriend into submission, ferchrissakes.

        1. “My mental illness is not a club with which to beat my boyfriend into submission, ferchrissakes.”

          I think we have another cross-stitch worthy phrase on our hands, folks. I love the Awkward Army!

  13. I just want to add to the chorus of “You owe him nothing!”

    Just because you felt something for someone once, and then your feelings changed, does not sentence you to a life of pretending to love someone. If you had married him, this would be true. If you had 2.5 children with him, this would be true. If you had been with him for 50 years, this would be true. It does not matter why you stopped feeling your original feelings; no matter what, you do not sign your life away when you say “I love you.” It is not a prison sentence.

    This is true no matter what, but what makes it even more true is that this person cares nothing for your feelings. He will say what he needs to – threatening suicide, destroying your self-esteem, silencing and dismissing your opinions – in order for you to be the person he wants, no matter what it does to you. Just because he needs you to be something, doesn’t mean you have to be it. Just because he has decided you must fill this hole, this opening, this void, doesn’t mean that you committed to doing it, and just because he feels entitled does not mean that he is. And you are not obligated to keep him alive – it is his obligation to see to his own mental health. If he does commit suicide, it is because he is mentally ill, not because you didn’t love him enough.

    1. To add to this excellent list of “even ifs” – even if he had done nothing wrong and had been the most perfect boyfriend ever, you still owe him nothing. Your wanting to end the relationship would still be all the reason you need to end the relationship.

      Women, especially, get taught that breaking someone’s heart is a Bad Thing to do, and must only be done to Bad People who deserve it, but it’s not true. Sometimes two people can do everything right, but they’re just not right for each other. Learning that lesson helped me get out of a relationship much like yours – with a guy who was clearly not doing everything right – because it helped me stop focusing on things to blame on him (to give me an “excuse” for wanting to leave) and start focusing on taking care of myself.

      1. A teen friend of mine once told me that a guy she’d slept with once wanted to do it again, but she didn’t want to, and she didn’t know how to tell him that. “I just feel like if you start then you need a good reason to stop,” she said.

        “Not wanting to IS a good reason,” I told her. “The BEST reason.”

        Sel, if this guy actually does love you and respect you, then he will respect your “I don’t want to”. My guess is that he’s going to try to be a manipulative jerk about it, which is why blocking his email/calls/Facebook messages/etc. is a really important part of this process, but that would just be further demonstration that what he’s calling love isn’t really love. Loving and respecting someone means respecting their boundaries even when it’s hard and even when you wish their boundaries were somewhere different.

  14. Apologies if this is a re-send – my computer is on it’s way out and now it knows I’ve ordered a new one, it’s really playing up.

    When I left my ex-husband, he spoke a lot about killing himself. He was very depressed, I had lived with the guy for over ten years, so I should have known what he was and was not capable of, and I was convinced that he was, at the very least, likely to do it. I had lived with the spectre of his eventual suicide all the time we’d been together.

    So I had to come to terms with the idea that someone may well kill themselves, and blame me. And that was miserable.

    However, I knew I couldn’t survive *with* this guy, and you can’t with yours. This isn’t a full and happy life you’re able to live as long as you’re supposed to be with him. He is controlling and coercive, even if he isn’t any physical threat to you. My ex was a physical threat at times, but people like tend to pull whatever strings they can reach for. Given the distance, the only threats your guy can make are to his heart and his person.

    I also knew I wasn’t to blame. There’s nothing you can do or say at any stage of a relationship which means you’re not allowed out. It wouldn’t matter if you had actively pursued this guy and told him you were crazy about him, if you’ve since changed your mind. As it is, you didn’t – you were fooling around and he dragged you into something far more serious. And then he’s made that something unpleasant and uncomfortable for you.

    I was certainly not going to be blamed for someone else doing something so foolish as to kill themselves. While people with mental ill health can say stupid things in a state of great distress, anyone who has seriously considered suicide has thought about the impact that might have on others. When good people do it, for real, it is because they have made the mistake of thinking those they love will be better off without them. They would never use that to punish someone they love.

    Not that there’s a guarantee he won’t do it, but if he does, it will be an act of violence towards you, an act of petulence, rather that heartbreak. And that’s how I began to understand my ex-husband’s talk of suicide. If he did it, it would be about hurting me because it was the only card left in his pack. The fact he talked about it so much *with me* is proof of that.

    So I thought about it, and concluded that it was fine. If he did it, he did it, and I could do nothing about it. It was his choice. If I went back to him, how long before the next time he was suicidal because I wouldn’t comply with one of his wishes?

    In reality, his suicide would have probably messed me up a bit, but I would have survived it. I would consider it as if I’d been involved in a car-crash where I was blameless and someone else was killed – I wouldn’t shrug it off as nothing, but I couldn’t blame myself for ever being on the road.

    And of course, my ex didn’t do it! As soon as he realised that the threat wasn’t working, he changed tack. In fact, I fear this is very likely with your guy; ignore his threats to himself and I’d expect him to be angry more than anything. But be ready for that and filter your e-mails and other on-line stuff so you don’t get anything from him (forward stuff to a trusted friend if you feel the need to keep an eye on things).

  15. SO much good advice, from the Cap’n and everyone else.

    One thing I want to add. While NO ONE is EVER responsible for the actions of another, including, nay, ESPECIALLY suicide, if you are going to be unable to escape the feeling that you are responsible if they hurt themselves, or if you just want to do one last thing to help EVEN THOUGH you are NOT obligated to do any such thing, and you know where to find the person, and you feel safe doing this, then I personally suggest calling emergency services (911, 999, whatever your local equivalent is) and telling them that $PERSON at $PLACE is threatening suicide and you think they’re serious. Most places, the police will go and get them and take them to a hospital where they can be evaluated for mental illness and the likelihood that they are a danger to themselves or others, and they can get help. If the person cannot otherwise afford help, many hospitals can help them find programs and assistance in getting it. If they are genuinely a danger to themselves or others, laws in most places will allow the hospital to hold them and provide treatment until they get past that.

    I know that many people object to doing this on principle. I know that in many situations, it is literally impossible, or is unsafe or unfeasible for other reasons. But it can save lives. And it can also put the person in a position where they CANNOT contact you for a while, which can be a useful side effect.

    I have never called emergency services on someone who did not know I was doing it and consented, but only because I have always felt safe saying to them, “Either you’re going to the hospital of your own free will — and I’ll drive you there myself and hold your hand if you want — or I’m calling 911 right now,” and every time I did, the person has agreed to go. I’ve taken three different people on five different occasions. Once, I called 911 because a friend was scared of what she might do, and the cops could get there faster than I could. When I got there, they gave me the option of taking her to the hospital myself and letting her admit herself freely so she wouldn’t be sectioned for 72 hours, and I did so, at her request. I do not suggest this lightly or without knowledge. There have been times in my life when, in retrospect, I wish someone had known to do this for me. And there’s one friend that I lost, who I might have helped, if I had known and acted.

    If you can’t do this, for any reason, especially if it is unsafe or impossible, then it is still not your fault if they kill themselves. If you don’t do this even if it is possible, it is STILL not your fault if they kill themselves. If you DO do this, and they kill themselves anyway, it is not your fault. It is never in any way your fault.

    I still encourage people who are in a position to make the call to do it.

    It sounds like the LW is not in a position to do this, but sometimes I feel like I have to say this.

    1. We actually had a conversation on Twitter recently about calling 111 for people – after the news report came out about the girl tweeting that someone was in her house, but before they found her. It was pretty much “guys, just so you know, you totally have permission to do this if something I tweet makes you think it’s necessary”. We also discussed the fact that we don’t always know people’s exact locations and other ways you can get help if there’s an intruder (eg calling 111 and leaving the phone off the hook if it’s a landline so they can track the call). Obviously it was more centered on violence from others rather than from yourself, but it was interesting anyway just in that “I trust you guys to make the call if you need to” sort of way.

      Also with landlines – even if you don’t know someone’s address but you do know their number, you can give that to emergency services and they should be able to see where it’s registered to. More difficult if you only Skype unfortunately.

  16. Sel, from what you write, this guy doesn’t actually like you very much either. You’re wrong for each other. You argue all the time, your views and ideals don’t mesh with his. He might think you belong together but you staying in this relationship, especially out of guilt and fear, is not even the best thing for him, let alone for you. You do not need to feel guilty about ending things. It is better for both of you.

    In some ways you’re lucky that he doesn’t know your real name (? you don’t mention telling him after you got back together so I assume you didn’t since it seems like it was a fairly big deal to you) because he can’t use that to track you down offline.

    Follow the Captain’s script. If any of his messages get through to you that seem like he’s serious about harming himself, contact emergency services in his area with as much information as you can give them (you might want to look up the best numbers in advance if you’re worried). Don’t engage with him. This is a bad relationship and you’re incredibly self-possessed to recognise the ways in which he’s manipulating you. If people ask about it you can just keep repeating yourself – it wasn’t working out, it’s best for both of us to end it now, I don’t want to get into the details. (Unless you do want to.) Never give an excuse because manipulative people can try to find a way to “solve” the problem to get around your no. “I don’t want to” is an excellent reason that no one can argue with.

    And don’t worry about your English, it took me most of the letter to even realise you weren’t a native speaker. 🙂

  17. LW, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I want to point out something: you seem really clear on what you do and don’t want. It’s really easy when you’re in this kind of situation to be confused about your own feelings (“I guess I love him because he loves me so much”).

    You know what you want, you just don’t know how to get there. Captain has given you great advice and it won’t be easy, but I’m hoping for the best for you.

    1. Yes she (?) sounds incredibly self-aware and that makes me happy. Knowing yourself is a different kind of smart from book learning and from your letter it sounds like you have both kinds, LW. For a long time I only had the book kind and it makes it very hard to be happy, no matter what your circumstances are.

  18. Reblogged this on Note To Self and commented:
    A must-read for anyone who is still dating, feels like they need a boyfriend/girlfriend to fix something that’s wrong with their life, or is in a relationship that looks more like a warzone than love.

  19. LW, you sound like a really awesome individual and I applaud your awareness. I think you should run with your instincts here (and indeed with the Captain’s excellent advice and scripts) and get the hell out.

    I have been in several IRL relationships which had so much in common with the manipulative dynamics of your relationship (the over investment, abandonment issues, dismissal of my opinion, threats of suicide) and I can really empathize with the difficulty of your situation, but I will say that the anger and frustration at having been tricked into staying for so long lasted a lot longer than the guilt I felt about leaving/hurting them. There’s a good reason for that; the guilt wasn’t ‘normal’ guilt of me feeling bad for having done something wrong, but an artificial feeling they had created in me as a way of controlling me. In my experience, escaping from a manipulator’s sphere of influence is like having a blindfold removed. Once you are free from all the pressure they are putting on you, it becomes a lot easier to assess things clearly and to see and believe that it is not your fault. The bad feelings of guilt, shame, and responsibility which were making me stay eventually melted away once the manipulator was no longer around to reinforce their distorted views.

    I also want to highlight this point from your letter:

    ‘He has even gotten mad at me for not wanting to strip for him over Skype’

    There is a lot about this guy’s behaviour that is NOT OK, but this in particular made me think he was not a safe person to be around, whether online or IRL. Manipulation can make us blind to concern for our own safety, or make us minimize or explain an abuser’s bad behaviour, so please don’t forget that he did this when you are working out what to do. Good luck.

  20. “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.”

    LW, as others have said, you are not this man’s savior. The fact that your friend/ bf is repeating this to you is a dreadful guilt trip. You are not the reason for his existence. The “without you I’m nothing” line is a lie, a terrible lie. Please, don’t listen to it. If he has built his life around you, that is not your fault and you cannot take the responsibility for his entire life and wellbeing on yourself. Nobody can do that for another person.

    I think you are very brave, actually, to speak to others about the suicide threats. That can be very hard to do. My emotionally abusive ex used suicide threats to get to live in my apartment rent free for years even though he had a good job and earned three times what I did back then. He has a child by a previous gf, and made up a big drama that the ex-gf was refusing to allow him access to the child. At the time I believed it, although later it turned out that this was not true at all. Anyway, when I met him he told me that he was temporarily living with his parents while he searched for an apartment because of all the drama with his ex, whom he had to fight in court for access to the child, he said.

    The suicide threat came when the ex insisted that he pay child support and when he refused to pay what he was supposed to and offered a very small sum, the kid’s mom got social services involved and they calculated what he should pay and hit him with a monthly child support bill. He said it was unfair and too much and threatened to kill himself to show the state that now his kid would have to grow up fatherless, and basically emotionally manipulated me into living in my flat rent free, because I was so scared that he would do it. He is a doctor and had access to drugs to kill himself, he said. He refused to let me call doctors to help him, saying he was not depressed. I ended up taking a week off work to sit with him to make sure he did not harm himself (he didn’t) and after that he carried on rent free in my apartment, because he would not leave.

    Knowing him better now (I dumped him years ago) I am sure that the suicide threats were a ploy. And if not, it would not have been my fault But at the time, I did not want to take that chance. He insisted I did not tell anyone and so I did not. But I wish I had have told someone. I’m glad you told someone about your bf’s threats and that you are getting advice.

    1. Your ex sounds horrible.

      If you start seeing suicide threats as “I will murder someone if you don’t do what I want” it becomes clearer that they are pure, violent, bad manipulation.

      1. Holy shit, I never thought of it that way. *head spinning*

        Speaking as someone who has been suicidal in the past, I have never, ever used it as a threat. I can’t even imagine any circumstances in which I would. That doesn’t sound like depression to me. It sounds like obsession. There have been times when one specific person was my lifeline, but ZIE DIDN’T KNOW THAT. Telling hir would have been so incredibly unfair and burdensome. And it wasn’t because I depended on hir actions to keep me going — again, so incredibly unfair — but because I didn’t want to hurt hir that badly.

        Sel, this guy may well need professional help. But he doesn’t actually need you. If it will assuage your guilt to think of it this way, he’s currently using you as a replacement for the kind of help that will actually make him better. Cutting him off is not only vital for your own health, safety, and happiness, but it might actually be the best thing for him, too. (I say that not because I think you have any obligation to consider his wellbeing, but because those feelings of guilt can be damn hard to shake off even when they’re not warranted.)

  21. You do not owe this person anything. They are manipulating and hurting you. You do not deserve that. Nobody does.

    All the Jedi hugs to you.

  22. Wow, this dude sucks and I’m glad he doesn’t know details like your legal name. Anyone who tries to punish his girlfriend by playing the victim so his friends will browbeat her online is ON NOTICE from me for being a childish, abusive wanker. That he’s threatening to kill himself if you leave is a reflection on him, not on you, and if he follows through (a big if, in my opinion), there is literally no way that that could ever be your fault. I’m so glad you’re getting out of there and making such good, thorough plans to do it. It sucks that you’re probably going to have to abandon the online identities and communities that you’ve been in until now, because if I know this dude’s type, he’s not going to let you go without trying to get “mutual” friends to throw proxy tantrums at you. And it sure sounds like they’re all prepared to rally around him. 😦 Good luck.

    P.S. Your English is really good, don’t even worry about it.

  23. Oh, LW, the simple fact that is plain and clear from this letter is that this man is not in any way, shape or form good enough for you. And that’s all that matters. You are not right together, he doesn’t make you happy, he doesn’t enjoy big factors of your personality (your intelligence, your well-formed opinions on social issues), he doesn’t engage in real conversations with you. Even if he was a perfectly nice guy and not a manipulative piece of shit, this relationship would be dead in the water.

    This “I’ll kill myself” stuff is abusive, plain and simple. He is abusing you, and you owe an abuser nothing at all. No guilt, no sadness, no emotional support. He’s trying to do an incredible amount of hurt to you, you do not need to respond with kindness or looking after him. Relationships like this can leave the victimised partners with emotional scars lasting years – believe me, I’ve seen this in enough of my friends. He is trying to do that to you. He’s trying to give you years of fucked up self-worth, of not trusting your own boundaries, of complexes about saving people, of putting others’ wellbeing consistently above your own, to your own detriment. This man deserves nothing from you. This man is spending his time trying to harm you because he is selfish enough to thinks the damage is worth it if it gives him a chance of getting what he wants.

    He is a horrible, horrible person. And yeah, it might be driven by mental illness, and personal issues from his life etc etc…but honestly, lots of people manage their shit without harming another person. Everyone has reasons for who they are, including people who do things society does not forgive or expect anyone to put up with. Who he is, is who he is, and right now he is someone who is hurting you for his own benefit.

    Get him out of your life. The Captain’s advice on how to handle that is spot on, and try to free yourself from the guilt of thinking you owe him anything. Would you think you had to look after him if he was someone who had broken into your home and caused thousands of pounds of damage to property? Or someone who had walked up to you on the street and hit you? Or someone who had had this relationship with a friend of yours, instead of you? If you met him on bench in a park tomorrow, and he told you he was going to call himself, would you devote the rest of your life to taking care of him? The answer is, of course, no. You’re not a professional, and you have no responsibility to care for someone who hurt you, or care for someone at all. It’s easy to see when you imagine the person as a stranger, but the fact that you have been involved with him for 10 months honestly changes NOTHING at all. He is still someone who is trying to harm you, psychologically, and you are still allowed to distance yourself.

    Being in a relationship with someone, for any period of time, doesn’t change how you have to react to their behaviour. Break up with him, and be a stranger.

  24. There were two things in this letter that definitely made me say OH GOD NO RED FLAG RED FLAG.

    As someone who’s pretty often suicidal myself, I think it’s okay to discuss things that will make one suicidal, even if they’re things like “you breaking up with me.” But the thing is that the next thing you say in that sentence isn’t “so you should never break up with me,” but “so can you make sure that if you break up with me you call some friends to be suicide watch for me/check me into the hospital/get me to call my therapist?” It is possible to talk about one’s suicidality with one’s partners (good!) without using it as a threat to keep people in the relationship (bad!).

    The second was that he says you’re “too smart” for him and changes the subject. Seriously, that just reads to me as “I don’t actually care about you or the things you’re passionate about and it makes me insecure that you know things that I don’t.” People who are actually good partners for you will be like “okay, you know this thing I don’t know, can you tell me about it?” And then you can listen to them talk about the things they’re interested in! Win/win.

  25. Dear LW,

    You owe this asshat precisely Jack and shit, and Jack left town. He’s a lying, manipulative, abusive asshole. He deserves to have someone smack him in the nuts and tell him that complaining about getting nut smacked makes them feel victimized by him, and that they’ll just go kill themselves because he’s made them a victim.

    He’s not a nice guy. And let me tell you something, my ex-husband tried to threaten me that he’d just kill himself when I left and took my child with me. He did that, and we went a few rounds with that where he managed to make me feel bad, and I finally got tired of it being another facet of his abusive personality, and told him, “Go ahead. Please do. We’d all be better off without your constant abuse.” When you call someone’s bluff, they sputter, because they don’t know what to do now, because the abusive tactic of threatening you isn’t working now.

  26. Hello, this is the LW! (Sorry if I’m sending this message twice, I don’t get WordPress :P)

    First, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read my letter and post a comment on it.

    Each and every one of them have helped me a lot on the process of understanding how to deal with this situation. I am also sorry for hearing all these awful stories that you guys have gone through, I only wish these kind of people had a warning sign on their foreheads saying: “Beware! Here there be Tygers!” or something like that. I feel lucky for not having this guy in my RL, and I second the idea of me not feeling comfortable enough with him to say my real name.

    While we haven’t broken up yet, I’m planning on do it tomorrow -seems like life wanted me to keep occupied on other things to let him chill out a bit-, I already told him about it.

    The funny thing? He said (not to me, but to everyone else on the social network we share) that he is, and I quote: “tired of being the one who is constantly reaching out to other people, while I get nothing in return”. The nerve…

    I am, however, in position to tell you guys that I will not surrender to his manipulative techniques anymore, because now I understand that whatever decision he makes, will be his, and his only. I do admit I’m worried about how things will turn out, but I am the only responsible person for my life, and I still know I do not want to be in this relationship anymore. Even the idea of spending another year like this sends chills down my spine.

    I’ll admit that I considered the idea of taking one of those infamous “breaks” until he gets counseling, but I know it’s not my responsibility to take care of his life, ’cause, indeed, I did not sign a gazillion forms in the ‘Facebook Shelter for Emotionally Troubled Puppies’ (best organization name EVER, thank you). So that thought is long, long gone now.

    Thank you, Captain, for your extremely helpful advice (as well as the rest of the user’s advices), I am already making contact with some of his closest friends to let them know what is going on (poorly detailed information, however, it’s none of their business to know exactly what happened) and how they can keep an eye on him. I recall that once, when I tried breaking up with him, he threatened me with “You will never hear anything else from me!”; I know it’s going to be the same thing now, so offering him my sincere friendship will be no use.

    Although I am planning on ending all contact with him, I feel quite nervous to check him out every once in a while, but I’m not sure if this will do any good to my mental health. I guess I’ll see how things go tomorrow and I’ll make plans based on that.

    Again, thank you all so much. You guys have given me more confidence on how to end all this “situation”. It’s hard to confront the social command that you should stay with a guy who “treats you right” for the simple fact that they “treat you right”, no matter if you feel like a plastic doll that has to be whatever guys want you to be in order for them to keep “treating you right”.

    For him it’s as easy as “I love you, you love me, we ought to be together!” Ehm, no, it’s not like that. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the suicidal threats, boy, you’d be long gone out of my life!

    I’m doing it tomorrow, just wanted to thank you all (I can’t thank you enough! ) for your comments and advices. This website is seriously awesome, I’ve been a casual reader for a while now, and now I can pay a testimony on how great it is.

    Wish me luck! And I wish the best for all of you guys, keep up the awesomeness, ciao! ❤

    1. Don’t offer “sincere friendship!” Him never talking to you again is a win for you. Best of luck to you.

      1. Yes, “Good Riddance” was my first response.

        “He said (not to me, but to everyone else on the social network we share) that he is, and I quote: “tired of being the one who is constantly reaching out to other people, while I get nothing in return”. The nerve…”

        This struck *my* nerve; as soon as things weren’t going well in the relationship with my ex due to *his* horrible behavior, this was exactly the kind of “poor pitiful me” posts he started putting up on FB. Nothing bad in their lives is ever their fault, and they are the Special Snowflake Victims.

    2. “Even the idea of spending another year like this sends chills down my spine.” Good. It was supposed to. Because no, this guy does not “treat you right,” not by a long shot. Anyone who thinks he does is welcome to have him in their life. You, on the other hand, have Standards!

    3. Congratulations! You’re doing awesome!

      he threatened me with “You will never hear anything else from me!”

      The Cap already picked this up, but that is the BEST THREAT EVER. It accomplishes all the goals!

      Good luck, love.

    4. Good luck! Or should I be asking if it went okay? But I agree with the Captain: voluntary silence from him is definitely a win, whatever his motives!

  27. My first thought when reading this was “OHMYGODRUNRUNRUNRUNFASTANDFARAWAY!!!!”
    One of my best friends got in to this same situation, except when she realized that it Was Not Working, Period, And I Need To LEAVE there were 4 years of marriage and 2 kids involved. Don’t let that happen, please.
    The Captain has lovely-wonderful scripts. They help muchly. Having a good support network who listens and honestly supports you will really keep you going and help you make the best decisions for you. Good luck to you.

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