# #959: “How much fighting in a new relationship is too much?” Spoiler: THIS IS WAY TOO MUCH/OH GOD BREAK UP NOW

Putting this one behind a cut for some sexual coercion.

Hi Captain,

Long time reader, first time question.

I met this girl who seems really great, and I like her a lot-she’s attractive, smart and romantic. But we keep arguing about sex.

We were having sex last night and I wanted to stop. Nothing was wrong, I just wanted to stop, I genuinely don’t know why. She got upset and didn’t understand what was wrong.

She wanted to keep going, and kept trying to get me back into it. I told her no, and she said I wasn’t even trying, and I had to try. She said I was lying when I said I didn’t know why I wanted to stop, and told me that I needed to remember there’s two people in this relationship, and it’s not just about what I want. I told her she was acting like a rapist.

I thought if I didn’t engage, she’d stop eventually, but she just alternated between cajoling and berating me. At one point, she started hitting herself in the face. I told her to stop and grabbed her hand and she said “It’s always about what you want; you always have to get exactly what you fucking want.”

She finally gave up, and asked if this was going to happen all the time. There was another time a few weeks ago when we had sex, but I had work the next day, so I told her she’d have to leave at ten. At around 11 I asked her to go. She was upset because she hadn’t gotten off, didn’t want to leave, etc. I ended up yelling at her to leave after asking about five times.

She asked if I’d stopped for the same reason both times. I said no, and she very sarcastically said “Oh, so you don’t know what happened tonight, but you know it wasn’t the same thing as last time? You know that makes no fucking sense, right?”

The conversation continued with a lot of sarcasm—basically demanding explanations and then mocking everything I said. She said that if she wasn’t getting any here she’d have to start going somewhere else and I said go ahead. She ended up telling me that I was acting fucking retarded, and I was a fucking bitch.

At that point, I lost it—I got up, threw the covers off the bed, turned on the lights and told her to get the fuck out. She said she was sorry, she didn’t mean it and hadn’t known I’d react like that. I kept telling her to get out. I grabbed my keys and my phone and said if she wouldn’t leave then I would.

She held my wrist to stop me from opening the door, and I told her to get her hands off me. She did, but she stood in front of the door so I couldn’t open it and told me I needed to calm down so we could talk. I asked her to move, and she told me I was being ridiculous, it’s my apartment and I couldn’t just leave.

I ended up pushing her away from the door so I could leave. I sat in my car for a while before I went back. I meant to go to my parents’ house originally, but I was worried she’d leave the door wide open or trash my place.

When I came back, she said we needed to talk. I said I didn’t want to and she should leave. She said that we’re still getting to know each other, and if she’d known me better she wouldn’t have said that. I said it’s kind of obvious that most women don’t like being called a bitch.

I went to bed and told her she could come to bed or leave, but we weren’t having sex.

She asked if I wanted her to leave, and I said yes. She said that if she walked out that door she was never coming back. And then she asked again if I wanted her to leave, and I didn’t say anything. She ended up crawling into bed with me.

In the morning, we talked and she said she would work on things. She doesn’t think I understand that it’s a big deal for her and she feels like once we start, she needs to get off and she can’t just stop. I told her that she had scared me and she said that she never meant to do that. I don’t have a problem acting like a rational adult when I don’t get off, so maybe she’s right about saying I just don’t understand how it is for her. We have only been dating about a month, so maybe we really just need to get to know each other more.

She said that she doesn’t know what has happened to me in the past or what my other relationships were like, and asked if I’d been in abusive relationship. I haven’t, and it kind of felt like she was trying to turn it around on me. She never really admitted that her behavior wasn’t okay, but she was really nice to me in the morning, got me flowers and made breakfast.

I’m not sure if we had a normal fight or not, because I’ve honestly never yelled at a partner or gotten into any kind of physical altercation, so I’m a little shaken. I know some of the things she did were not okay, but I have a temper too and I have said crappy things to people when I’ve been upset before.

My longest ever relationship was only about 10 months, and I’ve seen my friends yell at their significant other, so maybe it’s not uncommon. I don’t want to ask my friends what they think, because I’m pretty sure they would tell me to break it off, so maybe that’s my answer right there.

I still really like her, and I can’t help but worry that I won’t be able to find anyone else, because I’m gay and the pool is smaller. I also have kind of a history of short-term relationships– I haven’t dated anyone for more than a few months in the past five years. So I guess I’m asking- is this normal? We’ve never argued about anything else, just sex.

Thanks for reading, sorry it’s a bit long.

Hello.

This is too much fighting. It is not normal. It’s scary. You’ve only been together for a month (!), and she’s already:

• Yelling slurs at you when she doesn’t get her way.
• Hitting herself in the face when you wouldn’t do what she wanted (!!!!!!!!)
• Sending you fleeing your apartment out into the night to get away from her.

Don’t get me wrong, any one of these behaviors would be a dealbreaker at any stage of your relationship, but a month in is a good time to still be deciding if there should even be a relationship. Cut your losses and break up.

Every facet of her behavior threw my shoulders up around my ears, so it’s hard to pick just one thing your partner said and did as the worst thing, but here are my nominations for the bullshittiest things that have ever been bullshitted:

1. Remember there’s two people in this relationship, and it’s not just about what I (the LW) want.”
2. “She feels like once we start, she needs to get off and she can’t just stop.”

When there are two people in a relationship and one of them says “Stop” and/or “I don’t want to have sex,” then you are done having sex. If you do not think that is true, you are a bad person. If you keep trying to argue/coerce/guilt/blame your partner into have sex with you, you are, as was so aptly pointed out to her, “acting like a rapist.”

Everyone can “stop.” Everyone. If by some (fake) outlier of (bullshit) biology you actually can’t stop having sex once you start, then it’s your goddamn duty to only have sex with the person who will never want you to stop…yourself and only yourself.

The part where she got you flowers and made breakfast the next morning after abusing you is right on schedule. It’s called the “honeymoon phase,” meant to show remorse, bond you tighter together after an emotionally upsetting and intense episode, and create the fantasy that the abuse will never happen again if you just believe in the good parts. Her behavior, including the part where she tried to plumb your past to make your reaction to her abuse a factor of your psyche or relationship history (vs. a normal reaction to her abusive actions), could come right off a checklist for intimate partner violence. The part where you’re scared to tell your friends? Check.The part where you’re wondering if it’s something you did or said to bring this on? Check.

Letter Writer, you stood up for yourself beautifully. Your instincts – to stop, to get away from her – were in full working order and doing their best to protect you. What happened is not your fault.

I’m not going to brightside you that there is some awesome giant lesbian dating pool where you live and that you’ll find someone new in a heartbeat around the next corner. But that does not mean that you have to subject yourself to abusive behavior in order to have love in your life! Please don’t let the fear of never finding someone else keep you tied to someone who treats you so terribly. Whoever is or isn’t out there for you, this lady is 100% not the right one.

Where to go from here?

## How To Break Up With Someone Who Is Ungood At Taking No For An Answer: A Review

Believe in and plan for the worst. If you don’t need all these steps, great! But when you are dealing with someone who clearly does not respect you when you say no, it helps to believe the behaviors they’ve shown you and plan for how bad things can get.

Consult an expert. If you think it would help to talk this through, here are some resources:

You can also type “abuse helpline” + country or state where you live into a search engine. When you call, expect to find a friendly person who will listen to you and who will believe you. They may be able to give you advice about breaking things off safely.

Contact her and break it off. Be direct and make it clear that it is a unilateral and final decision. “________, our relationship isn’t working for me and I have decided to end it. I wish you well.”

Tell your friends what happened and that you’ve ended things. Think about crashing with a friend or with your parents when you send out the breakup text or email and for a few days afterward. They can comfort you and distract you, help you manage the barrage of replies that are coming your way, and if/when she dramatically shows up at your place you won’t be home.

You absolutely do not owe her a face-to-face meeting or a conversation. She will 100% try to tell you that you do owe her that, and she will 100% use that conversation to treat the breakup like a negotiation and coerce you into giving her another chance (hitting herself, refusing to leave, berating you).

You do not owe her an explanation or reasons for ending the relationship. As tempting as it is to try to show her the error of her ways, right now isn’t about convincing her of anything, it’s about getting free. Stick with short, subjective statements that can’t be argued with. “My feelings have changed.” “It wasn’t working for me.”

You won’t be friends. If she suggests this, and you don’t feel comfortable telling her no right then, it’s okay to change your mind later. “I thought about it and I’d prefer a clean break.

Return her stuff promptly…by mail. Mentally write off any of your stuff that she still has as a sunk cost. If you get it back, great. If you don’t, console yourself with the fact that you’ve removed this lever of manipulation from her arsenal.

Use block/mute/filter on all communication and social media channels. Remove her ability to monitor you online. If she floods your inboxes with messages, make it so that you can’t see them. Change your settings so that people can’t see when you’ve read or received a particular text or message. Be careful about sharing your location (checking in to places) or RSVP-ing to events where others can see where you’ll be.

If you use your phone as your alarm clock, get an old-school alarm clock and put the phone in a drawer at night. Shield yourself from those pitiful/horny “I miss you” texts in the middle of the night, and from your own temptation to answer.

Expect an “extinction burst” of increased attempts to get your attention and contact you. Once you’ve told her not to contact you, do not reply to anything she says. If she calls you 39 times and you answer on the 39th call, you’ve taught her that it takes 39 attempts to get your attention, and she will continue contacting you for at least another few months. This is really hard, and you will feel like you are being cruel, and she will play on that guilt. If you can stay resolute, she will most likely eventually withdraw.

If she threatens self-harm:

a) that is not your fault,

b) you still don’t have to talk to her/meet her/let her into your life. It is okay to refer her to (or call in) outside resources.

Given the way that she hit herself after you refused sex, this is not an impossible scenario. You’re not alone in experiencing this.

She may deploy other people to try to get your attention. If the circle of queer folks is small where you live, chances are you have at least some overlapping social connections. You may start getting messages from these folks along the lines of “Why are you being so mean/unfair to X, she just wants to talk to you!” Have a script ready. It can be something like “Yes, I ended things between us and I asked for no contact. I know you care about her, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try to broker a peace deal or pass messages along between us. I really need a clean break.”

I can also see her being anxious to control the story of what happened and to mask the fact that she abused you. You don’t owe anyone a positive picture of your ex’s behavior. You don’t owe anyone all the dirty details. You’re the boss of what, who, and when you tell. I suggest being circumspect with folks at first because you need to figure out who you can trust to respect your boundaries, but with trusted people, you don’t have to hide what happened here.

Remind yourself that you’ve only known her for a month. In the last 30 days you did not take on responsibility for this woman’s entire well-being, nor did she become the totality of your romantic prospects and life. She survived somehow before she met you and she will figure out how to live her life after you.

You always have to get exactly what you fucking want” is something she hurled at you as an insult. I say, embrace this as a badge of honor. You DO always have to get exactly what you fucking want, which is freedom from sexual coercion and a partner who doesn’t treat you with contempt! You will not stand for anything less than exactly what you fucking want in your relationships!

Know that we are all rooting for you to cut this woman loose as quickly and safely as possible and enjoy the dance of freedom.

## 311 thoughts on “#959: “How much fighting in a new relationship is too much?” Spoiler: THIS IS WAY TOO MUCH/OH GOD BREAK UP NOW”

1. slfisher says:

omg. nope your way right out of there. Good Lord.

2. Jane says:

Phew, not to beat a dead horse, but LW, I really think this person is bad news for you. Being able to say no to sex at any time is pretty baseline to health, safety, and happiness in a relationship.

Thanks for writing in, in any case! Your instinct that you don’t deserve to be treated like this is A+ spot-on.

3. I can’t help but worry that I won’t be able to find anyone else, because I’m gay and the pool is smaller.

A fear of being alone is very common and, like the Cap, I’m not gonna tell you that you’re right or wrong about that. But I would seriously ask yourself – when you look at the future, if the two choices are having to find a way to be happy alone versus having to find a way being happy with the sorts of situations you described above… would you really rather go through those kinds of nights? Even if they’re rare?

I don’t think they would be; someone who will treat you like this in the “honeymoon phase” isn’t going to get nicer or more respectful of your boundaries as time goes on. But even if this was something that happens with her only every third month, would you really want to sign up for that on a regular basis?

1. sometimeswhy says:

The second part of Don’s comment is was what I came to say.

This is her on her best behavior. Which is a thing that should be properly horrifying.

1. espridecorps says:

Agreed! LW should believe that things will not get better. At one month in this is the best behavior of her (hopefully ex) partner.
Adults do not make other adults explain consent in the middle of sex. Children above the age of 5 understand “No,” and can handle the disappointment.

LW, please believe that your lack of consent IS sexy for her, because that’s what her actions say.

2. “This is her on her best behavior. Which is a thing that should be properly horrifying.”

and

“Being able to say no to sex at any time is pretty baseline to health, safety, and happiness in a relationship.”

THIS THIS THIS

Behavior of a partner doesn’t get better than when you are in the “getting to know you” phase of a new relationship.
Inability to respect your wishes with regard to consent about ANYTHING, but especially intimate things, is a giant red flag.

NOPE ON OUT, friend!

2. as someone who has not been in a relationship for a really long time, let me just say – there are things that are worse than not being in a relationship.

And look – I get it, it can be hard to be alone and I’m not trying to discount that or judge anyone who is not good at singledom or being alone or just really, really, wants to find their lobster. But being in an abusive (physically or emotionally) relationship should, by any definition, fall on the “worse than no relationship” side of things.

1. kaimcn says:

Thank you. I’m newly single and I used to love it and I’m working hard at loving it again. Loving myself feels like the most worthy cause in the world and there’s no one in the way of that.

LW, you deserve to feel loved and worthy, even/especially when you’re alone.

2. Emily says:

As someone who was in a shit relationship for a really long time, I endorse this message.

3. clorinda says:

Just because you’re in a small pool doesn’t mean you have to embrace a shark.

1. AWESOME. Another one for the ’embroider on a pillow’ collection!

4. No one’s smart and attractive enough to be worth even one hundredth of that BS. No one.

5. Just saying: for someone who says that you “always have to get exactly what you fucking want” and that you “need to remember that there’s two people in the relationship”, she’s pretty focused on getting exactly what she fucking wants and ignoring that there’s two people in the relationship.

1. Daffodil says:

Yeah, that was my thought too. She has a hell of a double standard going. It’s especially ugly when you realize that what the OP wants is bodily autonomy and what the soon-to-be-ex wants is access to the OP’s body on demand.

Even in intimate relationships, your body belongs to you, not your partner. There’s always negotiation around what access your partner gets and when (whether that’s due to fatigue, medical reasons, or just not wanting that particular sex act tonight), and being able to handle those conversations with maturity and kindness and NOT coercion (physical or emotional!) is really important.

She’s proven quickly and spectacularly that she can’t do that at all. Time to nope out.

2. Turtle Candle says:

I think that is what a friend of mine calls “projecting like an IMAX,” yes.

1. Ha! That is a great phrase and your friend should feel great 😀

Also I second Cara’s comment so hard. Somebody in this relationship sure is focused on getting exactly what they want and ignoring the fact that there are two people in the relationship, but it’s sure *not* LW.

3. Minister of Smartassery says:

Exactly. “You always have to have what you want!” shouts the person ignoring the objections of another person who doesn’t want to have sex.

“You need to remember that there’s two people in the relationship”, shouts the person who doesn’t seem to give a shit about the other person in the relationship.

4. crooked bird says:

EEEEXACTLY. Also, such gaslighting. “All about you, always have to get what you want” is NOT information you would know about a new partner a month in. And if you did know it a month in, you would already be out the door.

6. illokym says:

I am so sorry that this is happening to you. Please, take your physical safety and mental well-being seriously during this time and reach out to your other friends and family for support.

I had a similar situation happen to me, where I broke up with a lover who was coercing and toxic to me and they proceeded to stalk me and behave very badly during the breakup. I was embarrassed and did not reach out to my parents or very many of my friends. I just want to give you the hug I didn’t give myself and tell you that this isn’t your fault and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Tell people what’s going on so that you have support and help if you need it.

The other thing I wanted to say is I detect a note of “Am I normal?” in your letter. And I just wanted to reassure you, if I can. All of my dating relationships lasted mostly between 3 and 12 months until I got married. My sister always dated guys for several years before she either broke up with them (or then got married to her current beau 🙂 ) Not that marriage necessarily is, or should be your goal, but I know others who date in the same sort of pattern that I did and that you seem to and there is absolutely nothing abnormal about it and it says nothing about your ability to find compatible people or form long-term relationships.

1. OP says:

Thank you. I am feeling embarrassed, but I’ve lit up the friendship bat signal to activate my support network

1. cleo says:

Good for you!! Lighting the signal is always the hardest part for me – I hate how vulnerable I feel asking for help. But you sound like you know what you need to do and I really respect you for doing it.

2. staranise says:

I was embarrassed as heck when I wrote in to Captain Awkward too. I felt dumb for getting manipulated and being too trusting, not activating the Noperocket soon enough. But well–there’s a lot to be said for people who are kind and gentle and understanding, who think things through and give people the benefit of the doubt. You’ve done that. If this was just a minor issue you overreacted to, the act of thinking it over, writing it out, and running it by someone you trust would have revealed that by now. So now, having made absolutely sure there is no way for you to be kinder here, it is time to get the fuck out as safely as possible.

3. Proffie Galore says:

Here’s hoping your bat signal reaches a big Gotham City of support.

Adding to the Captain’s (great, as always) advice, is there any chance Darth Girlfriend has a key to your place? If so, change the locks before you call her to break up.

You sound very reasonable and not at all demanding of anything beyond your self-determination. She sounds like batshit in a trampoline-lined cave.

Peace.

1. I’m stealing this quote! “batshit in a trampoline-lined cave”

1. Also, girlfriend can get herself off if OP doesn’t want to have/stop having sex. She’s treating the poor OP like a blow-up doll. Yeccch.

4. Minister of Smartassery says:

Good! I’m so glad. Friends are invaluable resource in situations like this. I want to address something you quoted her as saying in your letter. You mentioned her telling you that “you aren’t trying and you have to try.” Trust me when I say that YOU DON’T have to try. It doesn’t matter if she’s trying to coerce you into sex, meeting her for coffee to “talk things out,” or tweezing your eyebrows into a different shape. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRY ANYTHING YOU DON’T WANT TO DO.

Manipulative personalities like this are really good at convincing people that you are a bad, selfish failure of a person if you don’t “give them the benefit of the doubt” or “give them one more chance” or “try harder” or whatever bullshit will get them what they want. Think about how lop-sided and selfish that thinking is. She’s trying to coerce you into sex, after you’ve already said no very clearly, and she’s trying to tell you how wrong it is for you to have physical and emotional boundaries against what she wants. You tried to leave and she wouldn’t let you, telling you that you needed to calm down so you could talk, implying how wrong or unfair it would be for you to leave a space where you felt unsafe and uncomfortable. She’s telling you what you need to do to get her what she wants, while taking your comfort and safety away.

Please see her selfish, destructive agenda what it is. It’s a like a snake calling a bird a cheater for flying away when the snake is trying to eat them. The bird wouldn’t swoop back down into biting range because otherwise it’s unfair to the snake.

So when she’s trying to convince you of how mean, selfish, unfair and cold you’re being, please remember:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE “FAIR.”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO “TRY.”

YOU DON’T HAVE GIVE HER A CHANCE TO “EXPLAIN.”

YOU JUST HAVE TO KEEP BREATHING AND GET OUT.

1. The bad opinion of someone who has treated you abominably is of no concern to you, OP. You are clearly a nice person who wants to be recognized as such, but manipulative people will stomp on your niceness to get their way, and you will never get kudos for your inherent civility and decency from someone who doesn’t understand how to be civil and decent.

2. “It’s a like a snake calling a bird a cheater for flying away when the snake is trying to eat them.”
This is such a beautiful way of expressing how lopsided the thinking is here.

5. Anxiety Cat says:

Good on you! Lean into those trusted friendships and look to them for support. If you can identify a few “on-call” friends, all the better; folks that you can ask “hey, listen, I really need to not be alone in my house tonight, can we go out for drinks/a movie/coffee/a walk/a Stitch n’ Bitch soon?”

I think your embarrassment is totally understandable given what happened with this woman. You made two very reasonable requests (“I’m not interested in sex right now”) and were met with a wall of resistance, shaming, insults, and extreme behaviors (self-harming in front of you *shudder*). To get such an extreme backlash for something you thought was reasonable and normal would shake anyone, myself included. If this happened to me, I’d ask myself: “wait, was I being unreasonable? Did I commit to getting her off by initiating/agreeing to sex? Am I being selfish/unfair/etc?” And so on. In general, that self-audit is a good thing when you experience conflict. In this case, though, especially since her behavior threw you off balance (as it would do to any compassionate, caring person), your trusted friend circle is invaluable. They can be a great sounding board for these questions, and stick up for your right to being treated kindly and respectfully in any relationship if/when you’re doubting that yourself.

I’m so sorry you experienced this. As the Captain said, your instincts are in good working order! I hope that very soon this will be an unpleasant memory and cautionary tale that doesn’t impact your fabulousness and self-worth one bitty bit.

Jedi hugs if you want them! ❤

2. Janissary Jones says:

Seconding everything you’ve said here. Also, thank you so much for your last paragraph; as an awkward bi woman whose romantic resume is…brief, it’s encouraging to hear what you said about short relationships and the ability to form longer ones.

3. EllenS says:

Yes, ditto to this. We all meet more bad matches than good ones. Getting out of a bad match early is a positive life skill, not a character flaw.

1. /\ /\ THIS /\ /\

Wish to add some thoughts about the “size of the pool.” It does not matter as much as we think. It simply makes the process of meeting people who are not right for us (an important part of the process) faster and simpler. Both of my major relationships happened from what looked like very small pools 🙂

Don’t ever settle, OP. Make a beacon of yourself, so that anyone who is looking for exactly YOU will be able to find you. And treasure you as you wish to treasure them.

2. Queen of scarves says:

“Getting out of a bad match early is a positive life skill, not a character flaw.”

I love this! Much better framework than teaching women that love conquers all and they should just try harder

7. StarryMotley says:

This gal needs to take a long walk off a short pier. Good hell. NONE of what she did is REMOTELY acceptable, from demanding a “good enough” reason you didn’t want to have sex, to standing in front or your door, to the whole “you just have to have everything your own way!” accusation when that was literally what she in that moment was doing, to grabbing your hand, to just… everything.

1. Yes, this. And it wouldn’t be paranoid to factory reset any electronics she may have come into contact with. Someone who hits themselves in the face is also likely to install software to monitor or spy on others.

8. Mori says:

Had to come out of the woodwork for this one, because YES the one person who will always want to have the sex you want when you want is you. Anyone else, you have to ask, and have a (healthy!) Plan B if they say no, whether that’s masturbation and cuddles, just the cuddles and maybe some reassurance, or going out for ice cream instead. Self harm does not qualify. Arguing and coercion does not qualify.

After a (too long) time with someone a bit like your ex, I have promised myself something really simple and yet really profound. Arguments about sex are a hard limit for me. I mean, no two people will always want to have the same sex at the same times, so disappointment will happen on both sides, but arguments? I just don’t think you can argue without a sense that you are entitled to the sex you want and/or a sense that your partner is obligated to provide it. Maybe you don’t have enough of an overlap of interests to have a sexual relationship, and so you stop, that’s valid. But assuming I ever do have another sexual relationship that works sometimes, where I get treated like a broken sex dispenser when I am not magically in agreement with my partner? That’s going to happen once next time, not over a period of years. Arguing about sex is a sitcom stereotype that seems harmless BUT also it sounds like angry bees which in my case had taken over the entire attic. Captain is 1000% right about running.

1. OP says:

This is a great limit to have. I did used to date someone who got sulky and grumpy and made my life miserable if I didn’t want sex, and I remember thinking I would never to go through that again…Just to get stuck going through that again woops.

1. Sometimes we don’t always recognize something repeating itself and that’s ok! We’re all human, beautiful and imperfect. Thankfully you have recognized it and can shut it down before you get dragged down a really long road. You’ve got this.

2. PocketNaomi says:

You’re not stuck!! You’re one month in, you are recognizing that you’ve begun to see the same type of behavior again — only, it sounds like, far worse this time — and you’re DOING something about it!! I applaud you. You stood up for yourself with awesome power… and, frankly, pretty impressive rationality, given the extreme load of BS that was being thrown at you. And it sounds as if you’re working on extracting yourself from the relationship… at least I sincerely hope that you are (and that you’ll take the Captain’s advice about HOW to extract yourself; it’s all good stuff).

That said, I do want to address something you just mentioned, from my own experience. Several years I went from a semi-abusive relationship to a dramatically and horrifyingly abusive one in which my partner nearly murdered me. That one was easy to get out of; even had I been inclined to doubt, the police didn’t give me a choice. They slapped a no-contact order on her and I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful to hear anything than I was to be told that she wouldn’t be legally allowed to go within two blocks of me for the next three years.

But I also, when I took stock of my situation, found myself afraid of my own judgment. I’d chosen two consecutive partners who were prone to gaslighting, double standards, intimidation, controlling behavior, and violence when they didn’t get their way. I had been so certain that I was getting away from that when I dropped my previous ex, and I found myself in a similar situation but much worse!! How could I ever again trust myself to choose a partner?

So I didn’t trust myself for a while. And, in the meantime, I studied. When I finally considered myself ready to date again, it was more than a year later and I’d gained a ton of knowledge on how to identify and avoid abusers. I went back out there, if not entirely confident (which would’ve frankly been stupid), at least reasonably secure.

There are a lot of great resources on how to recognize red flags early and hone one’s ability to avoid getting involved with abusive people. It’s not foolproof, of course — and it’s NEVER your fault if you couldn’t spot something and do end up with an abuser! But you can significantly improve your odds, and that kind of training can be incredibly useful for somebody who worries that they’ve run into the same kind of problem more than once. Almost all DV advocacy groups offer information about this kind of thing, and there are several of them which are specifically aimed at LGBTQ+ victims. I don’t know where you are, but there’s one in Seattle called the NW Network, and they might be able to tell you whether there’s one closer to wherever you live, if you don’t know of one yourself.

Lastly, there is the book I recommend to *every* victim of abusive treatment: Lundy Bancroft’s _Why Does He Do That?_ Despite the title, it’s not just about male abusers, even though it defaults to them except in the chapter specifically about abuse in same-sex relationships. But for the most part, the specifics he’s discussing are the same regardless of gender, and he’s got a lot of good advice about how to recognize and avoid abusers in future.

Best wishes, OP. I hope you can get away from this woman quickly and thoroughly; and that you find someone, when you’re ready, who will treat you well and respect your boundaries. You deserve that… we all do.

3. B says:

A month is hardly stuck! Sounds like you had one prior episode that made you go HMMM but you were willing to give her a second chance. She showed you that she was just going to take that and see how far you’d let her drive it in to the ground. You asked if this was as messed up as it felt and yup, it is, and you’ve dumped her. Basically, you’ve got your head on straight and done all the right things; she was always the one who was unreasonable.

2. “broken sex dispenser” — wow, what a concise and accurate way to describe this mindset. That’s exactly what it’s like. Gonna have to remember that one.

3. Clare says:

I think this just became a dealbreaker for me, too! Thank you for putting it into words, Mori.

9. Ian says:

Not to make light of the situation here, but this shows just how incredible human brains can be. Even after everything in this letter, LW still ends it with “Is this normal?” It’s a defence mechanism of a kind – subconsciously we don’t want to have to admit that we’re in a fucked up situation, because that’s so much effort and emotion. It’s easier to put up a barrier of denial than to try and process what’s actually going on. This is why it’s so important to just talk to someone you can trust when you feel even a twinge of unease about something – they have no such barriers, and can tell you in no uncertain terms “what the fuck”.

Sorry if this was obvious or rambling – I’ve been trying to put this into words for a while while thinking about my own life. It took me the better part of a decade to identify just how weird and fucked up some of my bullying at school had been, and I’d still be in the dark if it hadn’t been for just such a friend telling me just such a “what the fuck”.

1. Thank you for this! I struggle with making sense of my past experiences too, and your description is perfect. For me it was my therapist saying “No, you aren’t crazy, and yes that was fucked up of them to do”. I try to keep her words as a touchstone, but understanding that facing the truth is *harder* and denial is *easier*, as you’ve said, really helps cement that.

2. It took me the better part of a decade to identify just how weird and fucked up some of my bullying at school had been, and I’d still be in the dark if it hadn’t been for just such a friend telling me just such a “what the fuck”.

My mom had the same issue with a lot of the abuse she suffered at her mother’s hand as a child (and a bit as an adult); I found myself having to remind her over the years that her mother’s actions were not okay and that her mother didn’t have to be “a good person”. I think you’re absolutely correct about this being a defense mechanism, and it’s particularly heightened when the person in question is supposed to be in your corner (family members, romantic partners, friends, etc.).

3. Anon, Goodnight says:

At core, does it matter if something in a relationship is “normal” if that something is making you miserable?

1. hummingbear says:

Normal, maybe not, but I think it does matter if something is *ethical*. A relationship can make you miserable without it being anyone’s fault (too long a distance, incompatible goals, a slob and a neatnik cohabitating) and you can break up and move on. Abuse is different. There is power in saying out loud that this person’s behavior was wrong, and reassurance in knowing that this is not “all just part of being in a relationship,” most people’s relationships are not like that.

2. It matters, because one of the core devices used by abusers is normalization. An abusive partner will always want you to believe that you’re lucky to have them, which means they can’t have you knowing that there’s a world out there full of people who will treat you much better.

3. thetigerhasspoken says:

In this context – YES. The concept of normal is very important. Abusers are fantastic at normalizing toxic and destructive dynamics and sucking their victims into alternate realities where abusive behavior is normal.

Everyone I know (including myself) who have been in a long-term abusive relationships, whether its intimate partners or caretakers, and have lived a long time with a skewed sense of reality (and are desensitized to feeling miserable – because that was our norm!) are more dependent on other non-abusive people to confirm What is Normal and What is Not Normal. So the “is this normal” question is not “does this fit conventional mainstream norms?” It’s a way of checking in with a non-abusive person to confirm what their gut is telling them – that they are being treated poorly.

In a non-abusive context where everyone feels safe, no, what is “normal” isn’t critical.

4. It mattered to me, because as lhazelgold says, normalization is a core device of abuse. Part of post-breakup detox was hearing good friends tell me, over and over, that unlike what I was led to believe, what I went through was extremely fucked up and Not Okay. Even if ex never hit me. Even if he only yelled once, over chat.

5. BigDogLittleCat says:

I think you’re saying, “even if it were ‘normal,’ you don’t have to accept it if it’s making you miserable.”

Correct? You’re not questioning the importance of a reality check, but going further to say, if something is bad for you, you can reject it. It doesn’t matter if it is “normal”, because “normal” isn’t the standard of what you have to put up with.

1. Anon, Goodnight says:

Yes, exactly!

1. Anon, Goodnight says:

And what is considered “normal” in relationships evolves over time, because it was making so many people miserable that they stopped putting up with it.

4. Regdren says:

People need others to help them with reality checks and keep things in perspective. The article is about seeing things happen from more or less a safe distance but I think it easily applies when the asking person is in the middle of an awful situation. Hopefully the Cap’s excellent answer and support from the comments helps the OP with the extra opinions she needs.

5. Agreed–it was thanks to good friends’ aghast reactions that told me that even during the Good/Okay times, my relationship was far from baseline acceptable. Phrases like “YOU PUT UP WITH SO MUCH OF HIS SHIT” and “you deserved much more, much sooner” help stem the guilt.

10. D-Slice says:

I am also a gay female, and stayed in a relationship with too much fighting for far too long because it felt like I’d never meet anyone else, and because I was far too attached.

I broke up with her 4 years ago and haven’t had a relationship since. And you know what? My life is peaceful. My stomach isn’t churning at the thought of her coming home and yelling at me about some yet-to-be-identified BS. I don’t feel like I’m not in charge of my own life. My life doesn’t feel like chaos. I don’t feel guilt tripped or broken about sex.

Sometimes it feels like I will never find someone else. My ex seems to, every few months or so. So there’s no shortage out there. But you should be picky.

You deserve more. Your life will be better without her. Cut your losses now while it’s still new.

1. allorallorallora says:

Came here to basically say what you did.

And LW, it is pretty apparent that you’re gonna end up needing out of this relationship. There will be no fairytale ending here. Please do it now, before you accrue the psychological damage created by people like this. Now is your time to get out relatively unscathed.

2. tammy314159 says:

Yes, exactly this. I was in a relationship like this for waaaaay too long, and part of the reason is because younger me wasn’t aware of the dynamics of abuse, and I got sucked back in after leaving a year or so into the relationship. My ex learned from her mistake, and did a bunch of stuff to make it MUCH harder for me to leave the next time, and so it took me a long time to get the strength and courage to try again. I did finally leave for good in 2013, and I’m so much happier and more personally and professionally fulfilled and successful now.

You’re in a relatively good spot, in that you’re seeing who she is while the cost of leaving is still (relatively) low. Don’t make the mistake I made. Trust your gut, cut your losses, and walk away. Seriously. I know it’s hard, but you’ll be better off for it.

3. Sheelzebub says:

Yeah, I once had someone tell me that my abuser was typical of men and that I should just accept it rather than be alone. I said I’d rather be alone. And I was alone for several years and it was glorious.

1. Lenore says:

Well, the person who said that to you had just abused you.
I like the saying that “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” but that person is in the 23hours 58 minutes part.

4. B. says:

*raises hand*
Lesbian here too. My last ex-girlfriend tried to keep me from leaving her by telling me that I’d never find anyone else, so I was stuck with her. I told her that if that was the case, I’d rather be alone forever and left. Her gobsmacked face in that moment is a very fond memory of mine.

It’s been 4 years and I still haven’t found anyone else, but I stand by what I said then. I won’t stay in a relationship that doesn’t make me happier than being single, because I deserve to feel the happiest that I can. You do too, LW.

You don’t need anyone else to complete you, LW. You are already a full person in your own right.

1. OP says:

Thank you.

1. B. says:

You are very welcome ♡

5. too much fighting

This just reminded me of the utterly toxic idea I’ve seen that “fighting is normal” (and its even more toxic sibling “fighting is a good sign”). Fighting might be normalized, in the same way that rape culture is normalized, but it’s really not a particularly good sign. Even in the best case, occasional disagreements rising to the level of “fight” suggests that something is wrong in the relationship, such that the people involved are in conflict instead of collaboratively looking for solutions when faced with disagreements, disconnects, or other problems. (See also the toxic interpretation of “relationships take work,” discussed extensively on this blog.) Disagreements mean everyone is asserting their opinions, which is fine, good even, but if disagreements are regularly turning into fights, that sounds like a toxic dynamic to me. People in intimate relationships ostensibly care about each other, which should result in them trying to make each other happy and boost each other up. If that’s not happening, the whole “care about each other” premise demands some serious scrutiny.

1. I’d add that frequent disagreements may point to incompatibility.

Been through similarly shitty behavior, we only lasted a few months before they showed their true colors, and I 100% cosign that short periods of dating have N O T H I N G to do with you, sweet LW. This lasted exactly as long as it could have, because any more time with her would have cost you dearly. Good relationships can last a long time, but if they aren’t good and you walk away early on? That’s you choosing self-love- choosing yourself- over being miserable for the sake of the “I did the dating thing!” badge. Trust me, that badge is way, way over-hyped.

1. Daffodil says:

Yeah, to me short relationships just mean that the person wasn’t right for you, you recognized that, and moved on. The issue isn’t “are my relationships lasting long enough?” but “are my relationships lasting the right amount of time for that particular relationship?”

2. Kelsi says:

One of the biggest “lightbulb moment” phrases I ever heard was “Just because a relationship ended, doesn’t mean that it failed.” Each relationship is different. For obvious reasons, not every one can be forever–but many relationships are what we need at the time and that’s okay.

(Of course the main relationship mentioned in the letter is not this–it definitely failed, but through no fault of yours, LW! Some relationships fail because one person in them is shitty and abusive.)

12. Miaz says:

Stop only long enough to put on your sneakers, and run as fast as you can away from this person. She is not healthy for you for all the reasons the Captain mentioned. Also…not all couples yell at each other. My boyfriend and I don’t agree on everything, but when we disagree, we try to sit down and talk about things and come to a resolution. If one person is too emotionally wrought to have a conversation, we allow each other cool-down time, and then regroup. However, there’s no compromise when it comes to one partner’s lack on interest in continuing (or starting) sexual activity. Sexual coercion is not a red flag, it’s the checkered flag signalling the end…the end of sexy times, and the end of the relationship. In addition to that, holding your wrist to stop you from opening the door, blocking the door so you couldn’t open it are abusive behaviors. As is yelling at you, calling you names, refusing to leave, etc.

Your dating pool may be small, but pretty much anyone in that pool would be a better bet than this person. She’s classically abusive.

Please cut off all contact, and follow the captain’s advice about not responding. You don’t owe her anything more than letting her know you are no longer interested in a relationship with her.

1. Lenore says:

Something I read in a professional negotiation site was the person yelling is signaling that they feel they are losing.

13. S says:

FWIW I am not a person, I have come to realize, who should get super turned on and then do nothing about it. After a period I become angry and irrational. I don’t even WANT sex anymore, but if I don’t have some kind of release I just get angrier and grouchier. Fortunately there are entire stores full of devices to help with this issue. It’s never been an issue between me and my partners and I would never use this to coerce someone into doing something they didn’t want and most certainly not as a rationale for why I yelled at them and it is their fault.

Since I have experienced this, if there was any sympathy for her to be had, I would have it. And I do not. She’s being unequivocally awful.

Aside from her behavior in particular, one of the things I’ve realized is that my partner and I get to decide what kind of relationship we want. For instance, I don’t like yelling. That means I get to pick a partner who also doesn’t like yelling, and we are happy not yelling at each other.

You get to decide what kind of relationship you want to have. And it sounds like you don’t want to have a relationship that includes physical altercations and dramatics. That is a perfectly valid choice to make, even if no one else you know makes that same choice. You can now see that you wont get to have that kind of relationship with this person, because she has shown you that.

So now you can move on, and try to find someone else who you can have a relationship that you actually want with. (Resist the temptation to stay because it is better than nothing. Soon better than nothing becomes the thing that keeps you from something better. )

14. SingHallelujah says:

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. No one deserves to be treated like that. Please avail yourself of all supports you possibly can. I’m really glad you wrote here; you are strong and you can take care of yourself.

15. Tea Rocket says:

LW, in case you’re still hesitating about whether to break up or not, let me make some additional arguments for leaving:

1) There are literally millions of people out there who will respect your boundaries from the outset. If you’re with this woman, you can’t be with one of them.

2) Usually a month into a relationship, people are still on their best behavior and see only the best in their partners. This woman has ended the usual honeymoon period abruptly and in a very scary manner. She has also said that she sees you as selfish and always needing to have your way, all while trying to manipulate you into letting her violate your boundaries. You deserve someone who doesn’t do this and who will let the early stages of your relationship be fun for both of you.

3) For most people, the amount of time they spend single between partners isn’t really related to the amount of time between partners previously. Speaking personally, I have had gaps as long as two years, and as short as two months. It sounds like you’re worried that it’ll take you forever to find someone new because of your history (and sexual orientation), but let me reassure you that that’s not necessarily the case.

4) To quote Dan Savage (and other people, I’m sure), all relationships end until you find one that doesn’t. And just like you can’t predict how long you’ll spend being single based on past bouts of singledom, you can’t tell how long a relationship will last based on how long previous ones lasted. You sound young; it’s not unusual for young people never to have had relationships that hit the one year mark. Hell, I’m pushing 30 and I have a few friends who have never reached that landmark themselves (or never reached it until they got together with their now long-term partners) and they’re perfectly nice, normal people who are capable of happy, healthy relationships.

5) Being single beats being in a bad relationship. Think about how you felt that night when she wouldn’t leave. Is it really worth doing that every few months/weeks/days (the cycle of abuse tends to move faster as the relationship goes on) in exchange for being in a relationship? Wouldn’t you rather be able to be secure in your home without having to deal with someone who refuses to respect your boundaries and throws massive tantrums because you do not want to have sex?

6) If it seems daunting ending things now, just imagine how hard it will be to end things in two months, or six, or after a year. If you stay with her, you give her no motivation to fix her behavior or to do the necessary work to become someone who is capable of being in a healthy, functional relationship. Instead, you teach her that you’re willing to put up with her shitty treatment and make it harder for yourself to leave as you two become more enmeshed. If you’re worried she’ll blow up at you after one month, just think about how bad it will be further down the line (and how many blow-ups you’ll have to endure between now and then).

7) Yes, couples fight, but there are healthy ways of fighting and unhealthy ones. This woman is the poster child for how not to fight. It would be one thing if she expressed her disappointment about not getting off, but immediately backed off, but she didn’t. It would be one thing if she cried or slammed the door as she left your home, but she didn’t. I don’t think having questions about why someone wants to stop having sex is necessarily a red flag, but refusing to accept your answers at face value (and demanding them on the spot) is. In my experience, healthy fighting looks a lot more like a debate (and ideally takes place at non-charged moments, but that’s not always possible) than like someone getting badgered or someone blowing up.

1. OP says:

All good points- and thank you for pointing out that she has said she sees me as selfish and always wanting to have my way. It’s easy to sort of gaslight yourself and think maybe things aren’t so bad, or maybe it didn’t happen quite the way I’m remembering it. But regardless of whether I’m right or wrong about how scary her behaviour was (and it was scary), I know for sure that I don’t want to date someone who thinks I’m self-centred and uncompromising.

1. Ice and Indigo says:

Here’s the thing:

‘Selfish’ means a person who thinks of their own wishes and feelings more than is fair or reasonable. So she’s told you that by her definition, an unreasonable amount is ‘any time that what you want ever conflicts with what she wants.’

By saying you ‘always have to get exactly what you want’, she has correctly identified that yes, you think your right to say no to sex you don’t want is something that should always be respected. And that pisses her off.

By the sounds of it, you have a normal amount of selfishness and unwillingness to compromise: you reserve the right to refuse to do something that would be very distressing for you. That’s healthy. The fact that it makes her angry tells you faster than anything else could that in her opinion, she has a right to a sexual relationship with somebody who never, ever asks her to do anything she doesn’t feel like doing and remains completely at her service at all times.

As to her claim that she can’t stop when she’s turned on – bullshit. She may not feel good having to stop halfway through, but the normal response to that is, ‘Okay – can I finish myself off before we talk?’ That’s not sexual frustration talking, it’s frustrated entitlement.

Run like the wind, beautiful. You are a million times too good for this horror show.

2. Tea Rocket says:

Glad to help. I used to be the queen of staying in relationships that really needed to end, and I recognized some of my old thought processes in your letter. I was heartened to see further down that you broke things off with her. Now when someone better comes along, you’re free to date her!

16. PAWS says:

“She said she was sorry, she didn’t mean it and hadn’t known I’d react like that.”

Oh. Oh, I see. If she’d expected you to stick up for yourself and hold her accountable for her words and actions, she’d never have done those terrible things. Yeah, that’s great.

I am trying to come up with a response to literally any of this that isn’t just me typing various expletives in all caps, and I can’t come up with one.

The cap has great advice, OP. A partner did many of the same things to me at one point and it went to its natural conclusion and it was terrible. I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with that. Lean on your friends, don’t be afraid to speak about this and chase the shadows away, and keep yourself safe!

1. Yeah, this was my response to that one too.

LW, she wasn’t actually meaningfully sorry: if she actually thought she’d done anything wrong *and was equipped to act acceptably in future* then rather than buy you flowers and make breakfast she’d have finally *got the hell out of your living space like you’d asked her to twelve hours ago* (absence of a “no” is not a “yes”! you did not actually say you wanted her to stay!), and sent you a brief message to the tune of “I absolutely should not have behaved like that and I’m very sorry; if you want to continue interacting with me please let me know, but otherwise I will keep out of your way.” Or something. You said no, repeatedly, to sex, and that wasn’t okay. You said no, repeatedly, to her staying, and that wasn’t okay. This is someone who thought they’d get what they wanted by yelling at and shaming you, and changed tactics when they didn’t.

2. Yolanda B. Cool says:

Yup. Read that as “Oh crap, your boundaries and sense of self are stronger than I thought. I would have held off on being overtly abusive until I’d subtly and systematically broken them down, if I had realized that.”

So, yeah, I bet she’s “sorry.”

1. Marie says:

This x100!

2. JenniferP says:

You nailed it!

3. thebearpelt says:

Oh my gosh your first comment so much. Yes. All of this.

Like, if she didn’t think calling you slurs would hurt you, then WHAT DID SHE EXPECT, LW? Literally why did she say it if it WASN’T to hurt/upset you? What a crock.

4. TO_Ont says:

If I’d realised you were able to fight back, I wouldn’t have been so abusive.

17. Yeah, LW, run. “There are two people in this relationship” is to remind someone who feels pressured to accommodate all the time that their needs and wants matter, not to override your partner.

18. I still really like her, and I can’t help but worry that I won’t be able to find anyone else, because I’m gay and the pool is smaller.

LW, have you dated other people before? Were they also terrifyingly manipulative and rapey? (Assuming “yes” and “no” respectively): so there are in fact other people out there. Sure, not a lot. And some of them suck! But… what you’ve got right now is seriously the stuff of nightmares. She tried to stop you from leaving your own home when you refused to continue sexing her up to her satisfaction. Holy shit, that’s a level of not-okay that probably won’t even occur to anyone else you date.

Do the things, as outlined by Captain. And when she texts you all about how she’s gonna hurt herself or you or her neighbor’s cat? Don’t respond, just show it to the police and let them take it from there. Trust me, they know all about that drama.

19. revolutionarygirl says:

Hi! Are you me and/or dating my ex? I know how horrible and confused you must be feeling, but trust your instincts: you need to leave this person and leave this relationship, because no matter what her good qualities are, she is treating you like shit. You can and will find someone who at the very least does not abuse you this way. There is a ton of good advice above, but just know you aren’t the only queer lady who’s been through something like this, and that there is peace and joy on the other side of it. Much love to you.

1. chris says:

‘Just know you aren’t the only queer lady who’s been through something like this’

Your letter reminded me of my first girlfriend. Some friends will get it. Others might not. You are definitely not alone, though. As the Captain mentioned, there are same-sex DV resources out there. And better things ahead. Hugs.

20. zardeenah says:

Her: “Have you been in an abusive relationship?”

Yes, yes, you have – this one! Leave it now! You can do it; we believe in you!

1. onyx says:

This is exactly the comment I was going to post.

LW, your girlfriend sounds a lot like my SO’s ex. He lost 7 years of his life to her abuse because she got her claws hooked in so deep, he didn’t think he had any other prospects and was afraid of being alone. Please get out NOW. No one deserves to be treated this way.

1. Agreed! I spent TWENTY-THREE YEARS of my life in an abusive marriage. Please take care of yourself by finding a non-abusive relationship or, as others have suggested, learning to be okay with being alone for a while (or maybe forever).

The loneliest I’ve ever been was being in the same room with that man. Lonely, and fearful.

I wish you health and healing.

2. Emma says:

She said this in the hopes that, later, when LW called her out on some more abusive behaviour, she would be able to reply “Oh, honey, no, you’re just super sensitive because of your past bad experiences! I know it must be hard for you to adjust to this totally normal, non-abusive relationship after what happened with your ex!”

Huuuuuuuuge red flag.

1. Turtle Candle says:

Yyyyyep. And often combined with a particularly devastating one-two punch: later on, if you say “I don’t like it when you do X, please stop” you sometimes get a “you’re saying I’m like your abuser, how DARE you compare me to your abuser, how could you be so cruel?” I got that once, long ago; at first, telling her about having been abused was something that got the soothing ‘oh honey you’re just so oversensitive but I understand because abuse,’ but later it was a how-dare-you excuse to berate and control me further. If I didn’t give in, I was saying that she was just like my abuser, and how could I be so hurtful as to equate me with her abuser? …and if she wasn’t like my abuser, then I should do the thing, to reassure her that I trusted her and didn’t see her as abusive.

So so so so so so toxic, I have run out of ‘so.’

21. Xtina says:

Some people are worse than being alone.

1. Southernbelle says:

I was about to comment the exact same: this sounds like a relationship that is, definitively, NOT better than nothing. And I think we all hope for relationships that are kind and respectful and one heck of a lot better than nothing.

2. AltoFronto says:

Even if the LW never dated again in her whole life, it would be so much better than staying with an abuser.

LW, I promise that, no matter how small your dating pool, you will find someone who is better than your current partner.
This horrible person (who is so bad that you felt the need to seek help from an advice columnist) is in the negative double-figures on the Good Partner scale – she is not even approaching the minimum threshold for acceptable girlfriend material in the way she behaves towards you.

22. Changed says:

There’s not a magic threshold where you’ve had too many fights and you should break up, which seems to be what you’re asking for – “well, we just had a brief discussion about the TV channel and that was our 51st argument, the relationship is officially non-viable!”.

It very much depends on the severity of the fight, the people involved, and to some degree the seriousness of the issue being fought about.

In my opinion a relationship can survive exactly 0.134 fights like the one you describe, which by sheer coincidence is the same percentage as the first three paragraphs of your letter (up to the one with the words “I told her she was acting like a rapist.” at the end – the fact that you had to say that, and were damn well right about it too, is what I’m getting at here, not any sort of censure over you saying it).

Te recycle some of the Captain’s best advice, picture yourself in this relationship 3 months, 6 months, 11 months down the line, and assume her behaviour hasn’t changed. In the picture are you even remotely happy?

1. OP says:

This made me laugh, thank you.

She’s actually been treating our arguments like they’re relationship milestones.The morning after she talked about how that was our second fight, and made it sound like that meant we were on the right track.

1. Daffodil says:

That’s another tactic straight out of the abuser handbook – she’s trying to normalize her behavior. Spoiler alert, it ain’t normal. And even if it were, that doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

2. thebearpelt says:

That doesn’t sound healthy at all tbh. Like, sometimes I can see folks, if they have a ridiculous argument that’s funny in hindsight, might fondly recount it, but the type of argument she had with you is NOT something one should feel fond of.

3. winter says:

Well that’s awfully practical for her. Every time she disrespects your boundaries and you’re standing up for yourself, you’re on “the right track”. This makes every time she acts terribly a success. Can’t see how that could go wrong at all, like e.g. grooming you for abuse – no Sir!

In all seriousness: She is full of shit and this is not healthy. If everyone is happy with them “said our first ‘I love you’s'” or “moved in together” are relationship milestones. “Partner tried to coerce me into sex and threatened me physically when I said no” leads right to the last relationship milestone: Breaking up.

4. goddessoftransitory says:

Good Lord, does her third milestone involve a trip to the ER? A shovel and quicklime? This is a pathological level of trying to normalize insane behavior.

5. LA says:

Good lord. That’s when you go “Yep, right on track. Time for me to initiate the ‘please consider us broken up’ sequence. Goodbye.”

Seriously, that’s messed up. Fights like that are not something you look back on with contentment in how your relationship is progressing.

6. AUGH NONONONONONONONO

Sorry, I have nothing else productive to add. Just imagine me running away with my arms waving behind me in the breeze, as though one of those inflatable air dancer things you see at car dealerships grew legs and decided to nope the fuck out of there.

7. Betsy says:

Ay yo, argument =/= fight.

Normal couples have arguments. “You thought I would be picking you and your sister up from the movie theater at 3. I said I was leaving at 3, and you had to wait ten minutes” is normal. “We are late for our dog training class because you typed in the address for the wrong PetSmart, and now we’re both frustrated” is normal.

“You are coercing me into sex by insulting, hurting, and terrifying me, and you won’t leave my home no matter how loudly I scream at you” is not an argument, it’s a fight. Arguments do not culminate in screaming, and anybody that says they do is in a dysfunctional relationship and needs to have a glass of water and take a break. This is fighting, and fighting is normal only between drunk men in a bar, and superheoes and supervillains. And you’ll notice that when this starts up, usually the participants are asked to leave the building.

This is not normal, OP. It’s not normal. It’s not normal. It’s not normal. Please keep telling yourself that. Every time you remember what happened, think to yourself: “What the fuck! That was not normal!” Every time she texts you, think to yourself: “What the fuck! What she did was not normal!”

Please don’t fall into a trap where you are treating this like a relationship. This is not a partnership. She is trying to own you. She was right when she said relationships are two-way roads: a healthy partnership means equal communication. It means two people talking things our and respecting each other as equals. On this two-way road, she is a racecar and you are a bike and she is doing donuts, towing you around by the handlebars.

I can’t believe she started lashing out physically when you said you didn’t want to continue having sex. I’m so sad and scared for you. I know your friends would be heartbroken if they knew this was happening to you. I hope you’re all right.

1. TO_Ont says:

I wouldn’t even call it a fight, personally. To me a fight is between two participants, who have both chosen to engage.

OTOH, this is more like if someone hits you and you push them aside as you run for the door. It’s an assualt, and an attempt to escape.

2. My person and I have had all kinds of fights – angry yelling for an hour, text sniping, glaring and silence, and lately, as we’ve grown wiser and more mature, quiet declarations of anger and tight mouths as we try to get through our anger and work through things where a fight lasts for five minutes and the resulting discussion for 30.
Arguing and fighting are okay, but we’ve never had a fight like that. We’ve never fought over the right to say no to sex, even if it’s no right in the middle, we’ve never refused to leave when asked, and we don’t call each other names. Take it from someone who does argue and who does fight – this type of fighting isn’t healthy and it’s not going to lead to healthy fighting either.

23. beanbag says:

LW, recently my partner wanted to stop having sex in the middle of us having sex. Both of us do that every so often, like a normal couple. As usual we stopped the instant he wanted to stop. I unfortunately had an anxiety attack that night, triggered by a storm of things including that the abrupt stop had made me feel kinda insecure. BUT I handled it by telling my partner that my reaction wasn’t his fault (it wasn’t). I told him I needed a bit of time to be alone and self-soothe. I self-soothed. Then I went back, apologized, and made sure he knew none of my reaction was his fault (because it wasn’t). Now I’m being extra careful about avoiding that reaction in myself.

Frankly I don’t think I behaved very well, and there certainly was a dark nasty part of me that wanted to start a fight. But I didn’t. And that’s what it looks like when a person feels really bad and doesn’t handle an emotional situation very well. I didn’t coerce anyone into sex and I didn’t self-injure (!) in front of anyone.

I’m saying this & telling this anecdote to emphasize that what your hopefully-soon-to-be-ex was incredibly far out of bounds of mild, messed-up-but-it’s-ok, handled-my-emotions-badly-but-everyone-does-sometimes…no. She hurt you and shows every sign of continuing to do so. She will almost certainly try to explain away her behavior based on how sad she felt, or try to persuade you that it was your fault.

Even though sharing this anecdote sends shivers down my private Yankee spine, I hope it helps you understand in your bones that this lady is not messing up the way a decent, OK sad person messes up. She is acting harmfully, abusively, and she categorically should not be in a relationship right now.

1. Thank you for sharing. I, too, have insecurities that interact *very* badly with feelings of sexual rejection, and I have had similar nights to what you described.

2. clorinda says:

From your description, you behaved very decently. Recognizing the dark nasty part and not letting it off its leash=well done you! Bad feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, if you controlled your words and actions.

24. Woah. So much bad stuff. Definitely not normal. RUN!

Regarding the sexual coercion, for me personally I always try to have one of my trusty vibrators on hand that can reliably do the job, even if we’re not using it. My boyfriend and I don’t do intercourse at all, so sexy times are always some combination of pleasuring each other and ourselves. If one person gets tired, or loses the mood, or just doesn’t feel like it, the other person transitions into solo play. In fact, I even have times where I want to do solo play even when he’s around. And guess what? He’s okay with that! Because sex IS all about what I want. And all about what he wants. And the activities we do are wherever those two OVERLAP.

25. Mo says:

LW, listen to your instincts. You probably wouldn’t be asking if this relationship was safe if, in your heart, you felt safe. You’re right. It’s not safe. Be a smart mammal and run for your life.

26. IrishEm says:

I sat in my car for a while before I went back. I meant to go to my parents’ house originally, but I was worried she’d leave the door wide open or trash my place.

You’ve only known her a month and yet you knew better than to leave her unattended in your apartment for long lest she take her temper out physically on your property. How long before her physical tendencies turn to hitting you (rather than herself)? You know her well enough to know she doesn’t respect your property, and your letter indicates that you know she doesn’t respect your self very much, either.

I am so sorry that you are in this situation, but don’t stay with her, get rid of her as quick as you can, because she is on her best behaviour at this point and is using rapey coercion tactics. It is not going to improve. Leave her, and keep yourself safe.

1. Turtle Candle says:

That stood out to me too. Even in my most horrible immature roommate fights or partner arguments I never worried that they would, say, trash the house. That they might never want to talk to me again? Or might say snarky things to acquaintances? Sure. That they would destroy my stuff or leave the door hanging open? Never.

1. Friendly Hipposcriff says:

A thousand times yes to this. If she has given the LW reason to believe that this is an option – something that should be unimaginable for one’s partner – that’s a good enough reason to end the relationship on its own. It is not normal to feel like this. It is not something you should put up with, ever.

2. OP says:

Thank you.

When I came back to the apartment, the door was slightly open, so I wasn’t sure if she had left. I was worried that she’d either have smashed up the glasses we left on the table or that she’d be standing right there waiting for me to open the door. It seems kind of obvious now that you shouldn’t keep dating someone if you’re scared of opening the door and having them on the other side.

1. JenniferP says:

Your last sentence is everything. 🚪

2. ruinousillusion says:

It’s also really telling that you don’t want to tell your friends, and are certain they would advise you to break up with her. I’m not always great about being nice to myself, but my friends are great at it, and they tolerate less shitty behavior towards me than I would. If I’m editing a story so they’re less mad on my behalf then I know I wasn’t treated well.

There’s probably a decent horror/psychological thriller opening in your original letter, and everyone is shouting “run!” at the screen 🙂

If it helps, I am a gay lady who was mostly single in my twenties, except for a couple of short-term relationships here and there. The dating pool in my thirties was more full of cool ladies who wanted more long-term stuff and now I’m settled down. The thing is, my straight lady friends who didn’t get married to someone they dated in college have all had pretty much the exact same pattern. I’m going to two weddings this summer for straight ladies who followed the exact same route, one in her thirties and the other in her forties.

No one can date more than a small fraction of their dating pool if they’ve got a large city within a two-hour drive, gay straight or other, so the problem is more “how do I find the largest number of single gay ladies who are likely to be a good match for me” than it is “there’s no one else out there who I haven’t dated”. Maybe you don’t have a big enough city within your search radius (two hours was my limit, that gave me NYC and Providence and it means that now she and I each have a one-hour commute). If that’s the case, can you move? What would happen if you made a list of what needed to happen for that: need to find a job and an apartment and have first, last, security deposit and a small moving fund saved up, and then started working on that list?

It might make you feel less like finding someone is impossible if you make sure to spend some time in the majority instead of the minority. Maybe joining a local queer sports league or meetup would help you feel more like you have options. I made a few friends after moving once by joining a queer lady D&D meetup, just about any activity you can think of someone will have started a queer lady group for it.

Sorry this lady is being so shitty to you, but you’ve got good instincts and it sounds like you’ve got decent friends. Your future nights will be better than these awful-sounding ones, whether they’re just you living your badass single life or you and someone good living a badass coupled life. You got this.

3. Your last sentence is everything, and it tells me you’re going to be able to handle this, because you’re still seeing your situation clearly when you reflect on it. Best wishes, we’re here for support, and I think you got this.

3. As a mention: even if the girlfriend never transitioned to hitting the LW, her behavior would still be wrong, shitty and harmful. (Though I agree that people who might wreck your stuff are very likely to eventually wreck your face as well.)

27. Dear LW,

Don’t bother getting your keys back, change the locks.

This woman’s behavior is abusive. Please follow the Captain’s instructions and break up now.

Jedi hugs if you want them.

1. Wehaf says:

Agreed – change your locks. Even if you got your keys back, it’s likely that she would have made copies. You deserve better! Get out, be safe, and rely on your friends and family to help you through this.

28. I’m a bi lady with a hero man for a partner. We are in a kinky relationship where we have some intense sex play. Our libidos are different.

We don’t fight about anything with shouting – we both decided that it felt really disrespectful and it’s hard to sort out problems if we let it get to yelling. There is *no* physical aggression at all. We’ve worked out lots of emotional conflicts over 4 years but never with restraining or slapping. Ever. If either of us find we’re getting angry, we cool off.

I’ve been physically and verbally coerced into sex by my exes. And my man has been through that abuse at the hands of ex girlfriends. So I can reassure you that the choice to give or revoke consent is a right we all have regardless of gender or sexuality. Whether you’re with a man/woman/nom binary gender person, it’s not normal to try to blackmail, nag, scare, restrain or yell a partner into sex. It’s not normal to have to accept the ever present possibility that your partner ‘might not stop’ and rape you.

I play in a BDSM relationship with my man and we have safe words. It was a huge eye opener to discover that I could pause or stop sex at any time, and my man would be as loving, kind and willing to date me as he was before I said no. My limits are a part of me. My needs matter. I say no for all kinds of reasons, from cramp in my leg midway through to feeling tired and not into it. The same goes for him.

Someone worth being with will value you, will value your no, will feel privileged to be someone you trust.

Sex is not something people take from you, it’s not a bargaining chip. It’s not a token you owe for the pleasure of company or for a commitment. You absolutely deserve flowers, breakfast and the tender touch of a girlfriend who respects your no.

1. Marthooh says:

“…a hero man for a partner.”

I’m so happy for you, A safer tree!

1. He is both a hero and hetrosexual, fortuituous typo!

Co ercion can happen in all kinds of relationships and it is never ok. No one should have to endure rape.

1. Parenthetically says:

“We don’t fight about anything with shouting – we both decided that it felt really disrespectful and it’s hard to sort out problems if we let it get to yelling. There is *no* physical aggression at all. We’ve worked out lots of emotional conflicts over 4 years but never with restraining or slapping. Ever. If either of us find we’re getting angry, we cool off.”

This. It’s absolutely possible to have a relationship without any physical aggression, without shouting, without insults, and you have every right to negotiate the terms of any relationship like that without being accused of selfishness, OP. You have every right to make “thinks shouting during a disagreement is occasionally ok” a dealbreaker for you, even if it wouldn’t be for someone else. You have every right to break up with anyone who does anything at all that makes you feel unsafe or bothers you or violates your standards or preferences.

1. When me and my partner got together, we’d been in past relationships with shouting. Our first few fights, that habit arose and we realised how *bad* yelling made us feel. Like, saying something challenging in a calm tone was tolerable but shouting felt awful. So together we agreed to consciously not shout but to find ways to regain a bit of calm. It took practice but I think it was motivated by that realisation that I didn’t feel better for shouting. Volume didn’t help at all. Shouting is not in itself bad, I know healthy couple who find it cathartic. But for me, it feels safer to know I can bring up challenging stuff without it.

I think rules around arguments can really make a difference. For others, habits like storming out, getting sarcastic, passive aggression, falling apart until consoled, running back to exes, these argument habits can all make resolving conflict difficult.

2. Solo says:

“Nombinary” is totally how I will describe my gender from now on: just chowin’ down on the gender binary.

1. If that’s what it takes to dissemble a culture that oppresses people based on outdated gender concepts, I’m down, one crunch at a time.

(Typos when consciously trying to write inclusively feel so much more embarassing than other autocorrects.)

29. allorallorallora says:

Dollars to donuts that she will try to make you feel as bad as humanly possible once you make the break. From a mere twinge to a full stab, these feelings suck… but they pass. A couple of things that sometimes help:

1) Regardless of how cruel she tries to paint you, you are actually helping her. Staying and attempting to train her into becoming a better human being 100% DOES NOT WORK and is a fool’s errand. You would end up full of broken glass. Her only chance at learning to modify her behavior is a series of discretely different individuals who will brook no bullshit and tell her to take a hike. That is your role in her growth process.

2) You yourself said that you are relatively inexperienced in the world of relationships. Grasshopper, as a well-seasoned old bat let me tell you: shitty humans are pretty common. Running into (and then running away from) one this early in your game is a good thing if you absorb the lessons to be learned from it… and since you are here talking to Captain & Co, I think you will! She’s given you lots of useful defense-building tools in her advice, and there’s a ton of them in the comments, as well. Snap them up and add them to your toolbox! 🙂

30. Turtle Candle says:

Oh, LW, oh, LW. The “once I start I can’t stop so you have to get me off Or Else” thing is so scary and so classic and I just want you to know that it is a manipulation tactic. It is not something you need to “understand.” It’s most common among men who want women to believe that blue balls will make their dicks literally fall off, but it’s also present in manipulations in WLW relationships. And it’s still wrong there.

I am a person who has significant in-ignorable physical discomfort if she reaches a certain point of physical arousal without orgasm. I get it. It’s real. BUT. I deal with it, when sex with my partner isn’t on the table for whatever reason (including simply “they aren’t feeling it,”) via masturbation. It would not REMOTELY occur to me to tell a partner that they had to persist in sex they did not want because I had blue clit, you know? Never would that occur to me.

Because, as you said, its rapist logic.

So much support, LW. So much.

1. preaction says:

I came in here to say approximately this, but also to jump up and down on masturbation is a thing, and if you can’t play nice with other people, you get to learn how to play with yourself.

31. Temporary Null says:

I dated someone who did these things for 2 years.

What I hoped would happen: They would become secure in our relationship, and I would get comfortable enough with them that they would chill out and I could be more forward with them.

What did happen: They got angrier when I didn’t want to have sex, and were angry with me when we did really have sex because I wasn’t into it because I was SCARED. I developed PTSD around sex, and one day when I decided I didn’t want to have sex, they flipped a table (literally) and threatened to kill themself. I noped the hell outta there. Oh and they cheated on me, never cleaned up after themselves and were unemployed.

The cost of dating them for longer than a month: It took almost half a decade to recover from the trauma of that relationship. It’s almost been a decade, and I still get triggered sometimes. And this person managed to keep their human mask on longer than your girlfriend. Just sayin’

1. OP says:

This really resonated with me- I did want to think that if I stuck around, things would get better.

1. Lenore says:

Violence. Always. Escalates.

1. Daffodil says:

Yeah. I swear abusers deliberately dangle that hope.

2. I believed that too, that all I had to do was be patient and supportive and things would go back to the way they were.

They didn’t, and I’ve been out longer than I’ve been in and still recovering from his abuse.

1. Damn. My heartfelt sympathy.

I’ve been out 2 years, and it’s still rough.

1. Thanks. Been out almost a year and a half. Therapist confirmed a month ago that he’d been abusing me. It’s a relief after blaming myself for so long, even though intellectually I know he didn’t even bother to meet me halfway.

The only good thing from this is that I will never let any future partner treat me like I’m worthless and unimportant ever again.

3. Minister of Smartassery says:

They won’t. If you stick around, she will learn how far she has to push to get you to capitulate and she will escalate until she reaches that point. And that point will get nastier, scarier and more violent every time.

32. stellanor says:

I volunteer to do the Break Up Dance in a grassy field with OP at a time of their choosing. I have a boom box. Trust falls are optional.

1. allorallorallora says:

I’m in to mix up some nope-tinis!

1. I’ll bring Ben and Jerry’s Oh Fuck No Fuck Off Chunky Fudge.

1. I’ll bring the glo-stix and glitter deelie-boppers, plus some sparklers so you can write a big cursive “FUCK OFF” in the sky with tiny stars.

2. I read that as “Nope-ins” Similar to “love-ins” back in the 1960s. Only with all of us chanting “nope nope nope!”

1. BigDogLittleCat says:

That is a great idea. Nope-ins, we need nope-ins.

33. morticia says:

LW, please take care of yourself. You deserve a relationship that doesn’t involve abuse.

34. Mmarple says:

NO THIS IS NOT NORMAL. DEAR GOD, PLEASE LEAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP. I am legitimately terrified to think what she would do once you were into the relationship for six months or a year. LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE LEAAAAVEEEE. Do not EVER be alone with her again, I am dead serious. Holy crap. Cut all contact, if you have to pick up belongings don’t go alone, involve the police. Ideally you should have called the police she physically grabbed you and then blocked the door and TRIED TO FORCE YOU INTO SEX, or force you to get HER off but I completely understand (I’m the same way) when in the moment you are in shock that this is actually happening and you did what you had to do to be safe.

1. kaberett says:

I’d suggest being cautious around “should”, especially when you’re talking about the police — certainly in the UK, it’s the case that the Metropolitan police (who cover all of London, which is… not exactly known for being a hotbed of cis heterosexuality) *don’t have any way of recording LGBT+ intimate partner violence* and *didn’t understand the question when they were asked if they did*. (Source is recent Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/the-metropolitan-police-have-no-idea-how-many-lgbt-domestic) So: no, I don’t think it’s unambiguous that “ideally” LW would have called the police — this is somewhere things get really complicated really fast the moment you’re someone who hasn’t won the privilege lottery, unfortunately.

1. Mmarple says:

Good point. It just freaks me out that your partner would physically restrain you from leaving. This whole letter has my shoulders up to my neck, I wasn’t even thinking about how complicated things can get with the police.

2. OP says:

Yeah, I appreciate the thought. I was curled up on my side with my head in a pillow for a lot of this because she kept trying to get me to cuddle her/convince me that she wasn’t trying to do anything, and then she’d try to get on top of me/kiss me/get handsy/etc.

So I didn’t really have the chance to get up and go make a quick phone call, and I doubt she would have stood there quietly while I called the cops on her.

1. Mmarple says:

I’m sorry I said ‘should have’. You did what you had to do to survive. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I wish the best for you

1. OP says:

It’s okay, I know you meant it in a supportive way. I didn’t think she was going to hurt me, but I’m fairly sure she would have tried to take my phone/hold my wrists/etc if I’d had the bright idea to try to call the cops.

Like when I told her to get out, we were in bed and she wasn’t moving, but as soon as I announced that I was leaving if she wasn’t–she was suddenly up and following me around so she could stop me getting to the door.

1. winter says:

This is really terrifying, physically threatening behavior and so. not. okay. Like, you just don’t try to make another person physically do things. Verbal coercion is bad enough, but if she is so far gone after one month – or maybe “letting herself go” would be more accurate – *shudder*

2. Iris says:

“Like when I told her to get out, we were in bed and she wasn’t moving, but as soon as I announced that I was leaving if she wasn’t–she was suddenly up and following me around so she could stop me getting to the door.”

FWIW that made me feel physically ill. I’m so glad [it seems] you’ve decided to get right the hell away from that situation.

3. Minister of Smartassery says:

Her behavior is extremely calculated. Please see it for the controlling calculated bullshit it is. Even after you’d said no to sex. Even after you asked her to leave. Even after you LEFT your own home to get away from her. She still tried to initiate sex/intimacy. Your “no” means absolutely nothing to her. She doesn’t see you as a person who has rights and agency. She sees you as a machine that dispenses things that make her feel good. The fundamental lack of respect for you as a human being makes her unsuitable as a partner.

2. Oh, gods, that is so horrifying. She was not only knowingly trying to grope you against your will, she was doing it after *saying she wouldn’t*.

I was so glad to read, lower down, that you have now split up with her. Good luck getting through all the hassle she will give you; it will be horrible but it will be temporary, and you will then have the rest of your life to enjoy *not* being with someone who is sexually and verbally abusive.

3. I-eat-weeds says:

Jesus christ, that reminds me of the guy who forcibly kissed me and then kept telling me to look at him, promising he wouldn’t kiss me again, but then he did. They do that on purpose, sexual assailants. More than acting like a rapist, she’s well on her way to becoming one if she isn’t already.

35. Sheelzebub says:

Your GF’s behavior is not okay, LW. Not even a little. Every minute you’re with her, you’re not available to meet someone who is cool, who is respectful and kind, and who is compatible with you. Every minute you’re with her is a minute you’re looking over your shoulder, walking on eggshells, wondering if this is going to be what sets her off again. Every minute your with her is a minute you’re doing things to placate her or strategize how to avoid/mitigate her tantrums. Those minutes and that energy could be used for all kinds of great things.

36. Beth says:

One thing the Captain did not say, which I think is very important:

CHANGE THE LOCKS ON YOUR HOME.

1. SarahJane says:

I agree. LW, even if you don’t break this off, this woman should not have keys to your home. She doesn’t respect boundaries (either physical or emotional).

2. OP says:

Thanks, but since we were only dating for a month, she doesn’t have keys. I only have one set, and she’s never had the unsupervised access to make a copy.

1. Ten Stone Lions says:

Hi OP — delurking because I wanted to let you know, it *is* possible and, apparently, quite easy to make copies of a key from a photo. I’d consider changing your locks if I were you; she might not have been able to sneak them off but she could’ve snapped a picture with her phone. I hope you stay safe, and thank you so much for writing in.

1. MuddieMae says:

It really isn’t easy, and requires both some specialized equipment and knowledge of key cutting. This is probably not something LW needs to worry about if they can’t afford to change the locks or can’t get their landlord’s okay.

1. Ten Stone Lions says:

> KeyMe was designed to let anyone photograph their keys and upload them to the company’s servers. From there, they can be 3-D printed and mail-ordered (https://www.wired.com/2014/07/keyme-let-me-break-in/)

This is one article I read about a key-scanning app where the author says the process required all of 30 seconds and an iPhone. I haven’t tried the app or anything, but I thought it would be good to be aware.

2. Ten Stone Lions says:

(Out of nesting, but I wanted to add: after I commented I realized it might come across as curt, which really isn’t my intention — sorry!)

2. Friendly Hipposcriff says:

If you can afford it, for your peace of mind, do change the locks. (Also, is there anyone else with keys, like a janitor, who might let her into your place? Make sure they won’t.)

37. SarahJane says:

LW, if you do decide to break things off (and I really agree that you should!), remember that besides being best for you, breaking up is likely best for HER. She needs to learn that treating people badly will lead to rejection. Only then will she – hopefully – work on her emotional health a little so she can be a better partner to someone else in the future.

So if you break it off and she tries to guilt you into seeing her again, talking with her, being her sounding board – and I think it’s very likely she will do that – please remember that you are *helping* her by ending things definitely and firmly, even if she doesn’t think so. She treats someone badly? They are no longer in her life, not as a partner, not as a friend. A stark and simple lesson, and one she needs to learn.

38. Megan says:

Hi Captain! Because you mentioned a queer focused UK hotline but not a US one I wasn’t sure if you know about The Network/La Red. They are a surivor hotline/support group that focuses on the unique needs of LBGTQ, poly and BDSM folks. http://tnlr.org/en/

1. JenniferP says:

Thank you!

39. Michelle says:

It will be hard at first. You will feel lonely and be tempted to call or contact her. Please, don’t. She is abusing you and it will only get worse.

I was with a man very much like this. Sex was all about him. As long as he got off he didn’t care about the other person. He would prevent me from leaving, take my keys, demand explanations, etc. If there were arguments he would bring flowers or a gift. He came in drunk from a bachelor party one night and wanted sex. I said no, I had been sleeping and had to work the next day. He drug me out of bed by the foot, raped me, beat me unconscious and left.

I woke up 4 days later in ICU, with multiple broken ribs, broken arm, face swollen beyond recognition and a nice shaved head where they had to go in an relieve the pressure on my brain. They said I almost died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and twice on the table in surgery. They also told me they couldn’t save the baby. I didn’t know I was pregnant. He took my child before I even knew there was a child.

Your girlfriend is abusing you and attempting to control you. You DESERVE better.

1. JenniferP says:

Oh my goodness, Michelle, I am so glad you are out of there. And so sorry.

2. OP says:

Thank you, and I am so sorry to hear this. I was thinking that it was going to get worse at the time. But then afterwards I wanted it to go away and go back to the way things had been before so badly that I was willing to it

1. Modern Culture says:

Dear, dear LW, “the way things had been” is an illusion that disappeared with this awful event. You now see who she really is behind the mask and she’s the wrong one for you. The right woman is out there! I’m a lesbian who didn’t accept I was gay until I was 40. I dated the wrong women for a while, cried a lot because of it. My therapist said when I found the right one, I wouldn’t be crying day after day because of lies and disappointment; the right woman’s actions would match her words. She was so wise! I’ve been with my partner for 20 years now. No coercion, no lies. Sometimes it’s about her, sometimes about me but there’s always the recognition that we want to be together and mutual respect is one of our tools. You will find someone but RUN from this one. Best wishes!

40. Marie says:

I was with someone for 4 years who (I realized too recently) was gaslighting me from the beginning. I was too new to relationships and just generally too naive to see what was happening. Plus, people like this can be so darn charming, right?

Long story short, we split up in 2011. It took 3 months of ignoring daily then weekly calls and texts. She even tried to guilt me once by texting that she had lost her job and didn’t know if she would be able to care for her dog and keep her house. It turns out that her company was downsizing and she already had another job. Then more time would pass between the contact.

Finally, after about a year of not returning any calls or texts, they stopped. Being single for 3 years was FAR better than being with this person. During this 3 years, this person serially dated and got married and divorced. I’m only sorry I didn’t see her earlier for the crazy tornado that she was. FWIW, I only knew of what was going on in her life because of people who would off-handedly mention things to me. I did tell everyone that I didn’t want to know anything about her life. I mean, I always hope she’s ok, but her being ok is not my responsibility.

I’ve now been with a wonderful woman (lesbian here, too, and from a small town so I know the odds of meeting someone can seem bleak) since 2014. We have a happy, calm home life.

I’m really sorry you’re going through this. Don’t let this person steal one more day of your life from you. Go out and live and do things that make you happy and spend time with people who lift you up rather than put you down. You deserve this. Everyone deserves this.

1. Marie says:

Oh, and I don’t know how I left this part out but… this person would just decide that we were going to try new things in bed. As in, I would walk into the bedroom and she would announce what we were going to do. If I showed any hesitation or wanted to talk about it first, she would accuse me of sex shaming her. Once, I just decided to go with what she wanted. Later she asked me if that was my new favorite thing to do in bed. I said it was ok, but didn’t really want to do it again. This resulted in her telling me that she couldn’t trust me in bed and that I made her feel like she coerced me. This pattern repeated during our entire time together. My self esteem was beyond low at this point. I pretty much felt like I was a terrible person and that I was treating her badly and was always trying to make up for it. I have never told anyone about this and am even shaking a little while I’m typing.

It took me a long time to realize that there’s really no winning with someone like this.

OP, There’s nothing you can do to fix this because you’re not causing the problem.

1. Esme says:

I’m so sorry this person treated you that way. It was very wrong, and I’m so glad you got out.

1. Marie says:

Thanks for your comment. Typing and posting this was difficult but it felt safe to do it here.

1. Modern Culture says:

Brave woman! Congrats on your calm life–such a treasure!

2. Drew says:

“…and that I made her feel like she coerced me.”

Yes, well…

So very glad you’re out of there and in a better relationship, Marie.

1. Elenna says:

Like someone said above: Projecting like an IMAX.

I’m so glad you’re out of there now and in a better place.

3. I am so sorry you had to deal with someone like that. I’m so very glad you made it out of that relationship. No one, NO ONE deserves to be treated like that.

It drives me insane when people accuse others of sex shaming just because they don’t want to try or don’t like, a particular thing. That is not sex shaming! That’s just having a preference

4. ‘This resulted in her telling me… that I made her feel like she coerced me’.

Because it cannot be said too often in such circumstances: *You* didn’t make her feel like she coerced you. The fact that she was coercing you made her feel like she coerced you.

I, too, am so sorry to hear you went through this but so glad you’re now out of it. And thank you for sharing that, which I know must have been horribly difficult.

5. Anxiety Cat says:

You are amazing to make it through this! I’m so sorry this happened to you, and so very very happy that you’re in a safe and happy place in your life now. *Jedi hugs*

6. D-Slice says:

Marie, I’m sorry you had that experience and so happy you got out. My ex gave me a lot of hang-ups in this area too, and my self esteem also took a total nose dive. It’s horrible that you had that experience, and that so many of us have.

41. JayFernz says:

I just wanted to highlight something in the letter that struck me: “I know some of the things she did were not okay, but I have a temper too and I have said crappy things to people when I’ve been upset before.”

LW, even if this is true and you do not always behave 100% perfectly, that is not a reason to stay with this person. First, occasionally losing your temper is normal and human and it happens. Abusers are good at convincing us that our imperfections justify their cruelty, but it simply isn’t true. Second, it is actually a good argument for leaving if being around her brings out a side of you that you don’t like.

You deserve someone who bring out the best in you and who treats you with kindness, full stop.

1. winter says:

Yes, getting worse yourself when being with a person (be it a relationship, friendship, …) can be a sign that it is really not good for you. Not for your personal growth, but also because they’re not behaving like a good person towards you.

2. The last line… TRUTH.

I knew my husband was a good match for me when I discovered that he thinks my temper is just a running joke my family has… because when I’m around him, I am a far less angry person than I have ever been. He literally steadies me. OP, you deserve someone like that.

42. ninja o says:

hoooo boy this raised my hackles. I was in a co-ed living group in undergrad when two of my housemates started dating. It got to this stage pretty quickly – he held her wrists to keep her in his room when she wanted to leave, he threatened self harm when she tried to break it off. It escalated to following her in classes and out of the house, a call to campus police, and him being held overnight at campus medical for supervision before we could get him moved out and their schedules changed to avoid common classes.

tl;dr THIS IS NOT NORMAL. You are sensing a huge swarm of bees that wants to enter your house. Don’t let it.

43. Yolanda B. Cool says:

LW, please take all of the Captain’s advice and GTFO, like yesterday. You have been dating a month. One. Month. This is the honeymoon phase. This, right here. Hitting herself in the face and being sexually abusive is her_good_ behavior. At this rate, her behavior is going to devolve spectacularly, and sooner, rather than later, it won’t be herself that she’s hitting in the face. It will be you.

Worst case scenario if you change the locks: your landlord is annoyed, you have to pay a couple hundred bucks to replace them.

Worst case scenario if you don’t: you come home one day to find that your angry, abusive ex let herself in, and has been waiting for you.

LW, I’m worried for your safety. Please take care, and please know that everyone here aboard the Good Ship Awkward is sending you good thoughts.

44. OP says:

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond and share your stories. It means a lot to know that I’m not being dramatic and I’m not alone. It looks like a few people are wondering about age, so for context, I’m 26, and the girl I wrote about is 31.

This happened over the weekend, and since then she has barely been texting me- no good morning or good night, and she only spoke to me yesterday to find out when I was free this week to see her.

I ended up talking to a couple of friends. Once of them reacted exactly like the captain and everyone here, but the other said that she thought I should tell her not to do it again, and then if she does it again we’ll have to have a very serious conversation. So it really means a lot to hear other people say that they think this is not okay.

I broke things off by text this morning. She texted me back and I responded, and ended up agreeing to a phone call after work today. I got lucky, and this blog was posted before the work day ended. I decided to let her know that I just didn’t feel the same way about her anymore and I didn’t want to talk about it after all.

It’s been about 30 minutes since then, and she’s alternated between saying good, we’re done, and saying she doesn’t understand and just wants to talk, and my texts have been all over the place today so I should understand why she’s confused. I’ve since turned off my phone.

It’s hard because a week ago I was so happy and excited to be with her, and now the fantasy has come tumbling down. I’m feeling sad and angry right now, but also relieved.

Thanks for posting in the nick of time, Captain!

1. JenniferP says:

Oh I am so glad you ended things!!! That phone call tonight was going to be where she was sure that if she just came over you could figure things together.

HOLD FAST and do not reply to anything. It is the hardest thing to do, but you can do it. ❤️❤️❤️

1. OP says:

Just another quick update in case anyone checks back.

Everything’s gone back to normal, and she’s out of my life. I went to block her from social media the next day, and she had already blocked and deleted me. I’m sad, and I miss her, but luckily she has not been harassing me. I was worried that she was using the silent treatment to get me to talk as she has in the past, but if so, it’s not working.

Thanks to everyone for the advice, kind words and personal anecdotes. I’ve re-read some comments here a couple times when I’ve been feeling uncertain, and it really helps to have a couple hundred strangers tell you that something is not okay.

1. Stefrrrr says:

So glad to hear it. Thank you for the update!

2. I’m also really relieved to hear it. Best wishes for your ongoing rapist-free life!

One word of warning (although you probably already realise this): She may well reach out in the future to try to suck you back into a relationship. You already know to stay away from her if that happens, but people are only human and it’s possible you might give in to the temptation to respond, maybe even end up talking to her or meeting her. It is so easy to get sucked back into these relationships and kid ourselves that things have changed when they haven’t. But that then starts off a downward spiral where you end up thinking that it’s your fault you got sucked back in because you didn’t stay away, and so you feel obliged to stick around, and so on and so forth…

So, all I wanted to say about that was; well, firstly, of course, bear in mind that you *don’t* have to agree to any of the ‘just one drink together for old times’ sake’ type of meetups, or anything else that sucks you back in. But, above all, if you do do that, remember that *this does not equate to signing a contract in your own blood in which you promise to forfeit your soul if you ever back out again*. If you get sucked back in – hell, if you get sucked into another relationship, for that matter – you can end it at any time and without justification. If it’s not working for you, it’s not working. You got out this time and you *always* have the right to do that again if things turn sour, or if you realise they’ve been sour all along.

Congratulations once again on escaping and making a lovely life of freedom. 🙂

2. bat lord says:

I’m so glad you broke up with her. Good for you!! Good luck and stay safe–we are all rooting for you.

3. lowbudgetcyborg says:

So happy to hear this OP! The sad and angry will fade relatively quickly, the relief will last a lot longer.

4. Yay! You’ve done the right thing.

5. Nice work! Stay strong. I found that this part was the hardest for me. I was able to be strong and firm in the beginning, but then the texts/calls/guilt continued, and my resolve got weaker and weaker. (Thank goodness for good friends who let me come over to their houses instantly after receiving a new text.) So when you need it, come back and read this thread again and hear our collective cheers and cries of “YOU CAN DO IT, YOU DESERVE IT!” and imagine us waving banners in all your favorite colors.

You are great. You deserve the absolute best. We are here for you.

1. I would highly recommend blocking her from your phone. If you can’t do that, change your number. If you tell your phone carrier you’re being harassed, they may let you change it for free. You may also be able to change your number online.

6. Mmarple says:

Whew. I’m so glad for you. Take care of yourself

7. Oh, thank goodness! We’re all rooting for you, OP!

8. Robin says:

Congratulations on breaking up!!! As a fellow queer woman who is single and would prefer not to be, I can assure you that singleness at its very worst is still SO SO SO much better than going through what you described in your letter.

9. Heidi Mull says:

This is such a relief to read. Hang in there and stay safe, it will get better!

10. dspt says:

Oh, I am so happy you have done that and are doing it! As I read all these posts, my heart was sinking that you weren’t out yet. You are so smart and strong, and with all the support from your friends and the Awkward universe, you will make it! Hang in there, OP!

11. TO_Ont says:

A good time to figure out how your phone’s ‘block’ function works. It’s easier to hold your resolve about not texting someone back ‘just one more time’ if you don’t keep getting notifications.

12. Drew says:

Hooray! I mean, it’s a little sad to let someone go, but when that someone is awful, it’s mostly just Hooray!

Now start making lists of all the FUN things you can do with the time that you were previously spending curating your ex’s sadfeels. I bet there’s a lot on that list!

13. thebearpelt says:

I want to congratulate you on making the tough choice to break it off. Remember that you were strong enough to do this and that, while a lot of folks here gave advice, YOU made the decision and YOU took the action. There’s strength in that. I hope things improve soon.

14. Ria Hawk says:

I just want to take a moment to address your one friend who told you ‘tell her not to do it again, and if she does we’ll have a very serious conversation’. Er… no. You told her not to do it at all. Several times. This isn’t like surprising you with something you didn’t want after all, where she had no way of knowing you didn’t like it. You specifically and directly told her no. *EVEN IF* you owed her a second chance (you don’t), telling her no directly WAS her second chance. She could have accepted your no at face value like a reasonable person, but she didn’t. And as far as ‘you’ll need to have a very serious conversation’ goes… exactly how much more serious than ‘you’re acting like a rapist’ can you get?

I might have rambled a bit, but my general point is, you are totally justified (and definitely better off!) breaking it off directly and not giving her a second/third/fourth chance, even if your friend thinks you didn’t put enough work in to make this trashcan fire function.

1. ABSOLUTELY SECONDING THIS. Your friend’s advice was really bad. You do NOT owe her second, or infinity, chances. You WERE perfectly clear. She did not want to listen to you, respect your wishes, or fully recognise you as an autonomous human being separate from her. That’s on her, not on you. And there’s no way of phrasing that ‘clearer’ for her – there is no perfect syntax or sentence that will make someone who doesn’t respect your humanity, suddenly respect your humanity.

2. Traffic_Spiral says:

Yeah, your friend’s full of crap. “Hey, so remember when I didn’t want to have sex with you and you freaked out and became abusive? Well, I’ve got this weird quirk where I’m really not into abuse or sexual coercion, so could you, you know, not do those things?” What the everloving fuck.

3. ‘….you are totally justified (and definitely better off) breaking it off directly and not giving her a second/third/fourth chance’.

YES! I agree completely with what Ria Hawk said, but I also want to add that even if you *hadn’t* told her at the time that she had to stop doing those things… intimidating you, lecturing you about sex, and calling you names are not in the category of behaviours on which you express a preference. They’re in the category of behaviours that should not be happening. Ever. This isn’t a case of her just needing to have it explained to her that you don’t actually like being coerced into sex or called names; this is a case of her behaving in ways that are full stop Not OK.

1. BigDogLittleCat says:

This. You don’t have to tell good people that you don’t want them to set you on fire.

15. Oh OP I just saw this and I’m tearing up at work because I’m SO RELIEVED that you broke up with her. Please please please do hold firm and don’t let her in even a little bit. You are so great, you deserve so much more, and I’m so glad you’re free and (hopefully) safe! ❤

1. Also please do continue to implement all the Captain’s advice – go stay with the friend who freaked out when they heard the news (if possible), let them take care of you for a few days. I highly recommend blocking your ex’s number in your phone so she can’t barrage you with texts – or asking the trusted friend you’re staying with to just delete messages without you having to look at them. (For when you need to turn your phone back on).

As a fellow queer woman – I’m not gonna brightside you and say it’s all puppydogs and roses out there, but you ABSOLUTELY DO deserve better than her. And it’s hard to get WORSE than her.

16. Thanks for the quick follow-up. I’m sure I’m not the only person who was worried. Congrats on getting out.

17. Ice and Indigo says:

GOOD FOR YOU!

Let me say something about your fear you won’t find somebody else. Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball, but…

1. You’re obviously attractive and desirable. Nobody as selfish as your mercifully-now-ex would be interested in you if you weren’t.

2. You’ve got excellent communication skills. Your ex freaked out because they were so good: they’re the kind of skills that make for a healthy relationship, which is what she didn’t want but what you are now free to pursue.

3. You’re smart and strong. You saw through her manipulations and got yourself out of a dangerous situation in good, fast time.

4. You’re a nice person who talks to everyone here in a friendly, likeable way.

So yeah, there are fewer gay women around than straight people, but it’s not exactly a tiny group of people to go looking for love in. When you feel the temptation to go back to her, just remember that your chances of finding a better relationship are – well, nobody’s are 100%, but I’d call them pretty good. You, my dear, are a catch.

18. Helbling says:

Oh op, you are amazing!! Well done you!

Safety things to consider:
Please don’t be home alone tonight if you can. Don’t be anywhere she knows you’re going to be tonight on your own. Change your routine, stay at a friend’s, or have a friend stay with you. If you can’t do that and she turns up on your doorstep, do not open the door. Tell her to go away through the door/intercom, and then call the police*.

I am hopeful that I am being paranoid and nothing will happen, but history I will not go into because holy triggers suggests to me that this may be sensible precautions to take.

*- my privileged assumption here is that you have law enforcement in your area who will help and not hinder. If not, please call a burly friend or family member.

1. @Helbling: Just wanted to say that even if nothing *does* happen, that doesn’t mean you’re being paranoid. You’ve given extremely sensible advice which is totally justified under the circumstances.

19. TO_Ont says:

No, you don’t need to explain to her that people have a right to basic control over their own body. That’s a conversation you can legitimately have with a five or six year old. (honestly a 2 or 3 year old, but I can accept that all the nuances might not be fully mastered for some 5 year olds).

Someone doesn’t get to their 30s without encountering the idea that people have basic rights over their own body, that no means no, etc. Throw away any idea that she’d just never heard of that before, and that if you just let her know it’s wrong, she will be enlightened.

20. Big Pink Box says:

You can get apps (I use Blacklist for Android) that block calls and texts. You can set ‘Whitelist’ mode, where you choose which numbers get through, and all others are blocked, or ‘Blacklist’ which lets you manually add who you want to block, and ‘Contacts only’ (Yay, no spam calls!) but with the ability to block any of those contacts.

You are stronger than you think you are. I never thought I’d find a woman who’d love me, I lived in super-straightsville, and the nearest city had a tiny, quasi-incestuous lesbian dating pool. I met my wife on a lesbian dating site, that was in 2005, and while our life together has been extremely difficult (just life stuff, unrelated to our sexuality) we’re extremely happy together. Actually, I met all of my gay friends online, and that’s where they met their girlfriends and wives too. People freak out about online dating, but if you’re stuck in a place with no appreciable dating pool (like a crappy UK new town) it’s a great way to meet other people.

Best of luck!

21. Sheelzebub says:

I am so relieved to read this–that you broke up with her. Block her. It doesn’t matter how confused she is/claims to be, this is her cue to walk away. She will keep texting you and trying to contact you to wear you down and get you to pay attention to her. Don’t do it. Block her on your phone if you can. Block her on all social media. Let your friends know so they won’t be unwitting enablers of her shit. And if you have any friends who turn into apologists for her garbage, cut them loose.

22. SO happy for you, OP! You did the hard but right thing. GOOD FOR YOU!

23. René Shiro says:

So happy to read this! (Not happy about you having a hard time, obviously… you know what I mean.) Sending supporty thoughts of supportyness, from one queer to another.

24. OP, I read your letter yesterday and the Captain’s response, and then had to go do life stuff. I woke up this morning worried about you, and thought to myself, “I hope the OP from yesterday’s letter has written in with news of a breakup. Please let her have ended it.”

The extinction burst that people have described sounds like it’s happening right on schedule. She’s gonna try to make you feel like you are a bad person and YOU ARE NOT. This is right out of the playbook. Be the black hole, be the stone, be the solid wall that gives no response and eventually it will pass.

25. *cheering and waving a sparkly “CONGRATULATIONS” banner that is way too large, getting tangled in it, falling down while still cheering*

LW, you have done a brave thing here. I’m SO happy to hear that you were able to go through with it–it sounds like you made the absolute, unambiguous right decision.

26. BigDogLittleCat says:

Oh, thank goodness and puppy dogs! This is a huge relief!
OP, you are an awesome person and you can, rather- will do this just fine. You obviously have a good heart and a good head, and deserve someone who appreciates how great you are.
Hang strong, you have the Awkward Army behind you.

27. Hrovitnir says:

I’m so glad! Reading this letter made me feel sick to my stomach; I am so so glad that you felt supported by the response and had one friend who saw this for as horrifying as it was (I personally don’t think you get three strikes on sexual assault or whatever your second friend was thinking). Cheering for you over here.

28. Emily says:

She’s a mean lady, and none of that letter is how we treat people we like and want to have like us back.

45. Jules says:

I just watched a dear friend (DF) go through something very like your experience, OP: yelling, name calling, physically preventing escape.

This is abuse. You don’t deserve it. It will only get worse.

It took me way too long to put that name to it, because it was a female doing it. You are not alone in being confused by the behavior, and wondering ‘am I doing something’ and ‘but it’s so good sometimes’. Abuse is very confusing to people who come up against it for the first time. Heck, I’ve seen it from men before, I’m usually pretty aware, and I was confused by my gender preconceptions.

I found out that she had hit her last partner, and that she was starting to shove DF during arguments. I managed to get them to go to counseling, and eventually, they broke up, and DF is much happier. DF uses ‘we weren’t good for each other’, if you need any variation on ‘it wasn’t working for me’ .

About your dating pattern: I’m a cishet woman, married 15 years, but in the 15 years before I met my spouse, I dated a few people for over a year, and a lot of people for 1 – 3 months. My cis-bi sister dated one person for a month, and 3 people (male and female) for over 5 years each. Don’t worry about ‘your pattern’, there’s a huge variety. If you’re in a particularly sparse area for potential partners, you might consider moving. If you’re in the US, it doesn’t have to be to a big city like NYC or Portland (though Portland is awful nice). Durham / Raleigh NC are very LGBTQx friendly, and there’s several smaller towns around here with significant LGBTQx population, and we have lots of jobs, and pretty good weather. And lower cost of living than Portland, according to a lesbian friend who just moved back.

Good luck and internet hugs if you want them ((()))

46. Regarding the small dating pool: When I was young and unmarried, I was into punk and I lived in an area where other people were NOT. This was in the very conservative ’80s.
I ended up with a couple of guys who were NOT good for me because I thought, “Oh, hey, almost nobody will date me and/or accept me because I’m into punk. I’m so lucky I found a boyfriend in the first place!”
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to wait until I met someone who totally respected me and accepted me. I never had much self esteem and this left me wide open to all kinds of creeps.
It IS better to be alone than with the wrong person.

1. GreyjoyGardens says:

I think the availability of venues like Tinder, Grindr, Match.com, and so forth have really helped people who would otherwise face a small/restricted dating pool. You’re not limited by who is in your immediate area anymore, and you don’t have to rely on kismet and luck and being in the right place at the right time (“if I put on pants and go to Sarah’s party, I might meet someone terrific there!”).

Yes, people’s dating arenas might be more or less constrained for other reasons, but apps and websites have largely taken *geographic* constraints away.

1. Big Pink Box says:

This! I met someone who only lived twenty-one miles away, but without ​the women-only dating site we met on we’d never have crossed paths. 12 years later and we’re very happy together.

47. Rhoda says:

LW, ask yourself this. If a friend came to you for advice, describing a boyfriend who behaved this way, what would you tell her? To break up, change the locks, and block him on everything? Yup, that’s what you should do.

48. Raptor says:

I know CA already said it, but please do not meet her in person for the breakup.

“Wouldn’t leave apartment when told to”
And
“Manipulative self-harm”
And
“Tries to stop you from leaving apartment”

Just one of those would make me think a text/phone breakup would be ideal.

1. Raptor says:

Just to chip in my experience…

I honestly didn’t realize this one ex was abusive until I saw her with her new girlfriend, and all I wanted to say to the new girl was “Run.” No jealousy, just feeling sorry and a little scared for New GF, and wishing there was something I could do.

49. Firecat says:

Big Jedi hugs – only if you want them! I just want to say two things that I think bear repeating.

1) What she did is not ok.
2) You are right to be upset and scared.

Please, PLEASE get out of this relationship, and keep yourself safe. Being in this relationship is not safe, and is not better than being single. And please don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends and family (as applicable). And yes, please do change the locks; in most cases, having them re-keyed should be enough, and shouldn’t be terribly expensive.

All the best to you, LW; I hope you get out of this safely, and that you meet someone who is amazing, and who treats you with respect and kindness.

50. Katamari says:

Gf is not just Ungood at taking no for an answer. She is Double Plus Ungood.

51. Allison says:

This reminds me of my ex-wife. When I had trouble “performing” (yes, I was still living as a man at the time), she insisted that it was my obligation as a husband to give her sex. Whiich really helped me perform \end{sarcasm}. When she was angry, I was afraid to leave the kids with her, I couldn’t trust that she wouldn’t do something awful. It wasn’t until I realized that the only thing I was looking forward to was dying that I realized that I had to get out (or die.) It took me over 18 months, but I finally got out. I still have to interact with her because we have two children together, but by a calm and firm maintenance of boundaries it’s gotten — not so bad. I can have her over for a few hours for Christmas dinner (with the kids) and we can be polite to one another for the whole time.

But when I was finally living on my own, I knew in the core of my being that I’d much rather beialone and celibate for the rest of my life than go through that again. In many ways, she is a wonderful person and I still care about her. But live with her? Try to have an intimate relationship with her? Nope, nope, a thousand times nope.

52. Fishmongers' Daughters says:

Yeah, I’m 37 and most of my relationships have been short-term as well. Turns out it was because they were fairly crappy people and/or we were a bad match. I bring this up because the reason my relationships were short-term is that I acted like you just did, dear LW. I stood up for myself.

Then I met a sad dude and I stayed with him for 3 years. And our marriage counselor was the one who told me that “long-term” ≠ “successful” when it comes to relationships. He said he knew some extremely dysfunctional couples who would NEVER leave each other.

As the Captain said, your instincts were bang on. And they’re probably a good part of the reason you haven’t been in any long-term relationships. You may be dating shitty people or people that aren’t a good fit for you. The very best thing you can do is continue to call that out, refuse to accept it as normal, and let those bad experiences guide your future decisions. That’s how you cull the shitty people in your life and choose to surround yourself with Good people. Keep holding out, LW. You are doing just. fucking. fine.

53. Lapus Lazuli says:

Most modern cell phones have a block feature when it comes to cell calls and messages. The moment you tell this [not nice word here] to hit the road and don’t come back no more, block her cell and home phone. That should help you get some piece and quiet.

Get this woman out of your hair, full stop. Arguments happen in couples, but a lover should never argue with you about the following:
3) Sex, period.

This reminds me too much about the earliar story from this year where the OP’s ex was trying to weasle her way into the OP’s hand in marriage. Both the ex in this story and the girl in this one are trying to rush the letter writers into a dangerous and permanent relationship JUST to fulfill their OWN needs at the cost of the LWs’, and both accuse the LWs of being selfish. The LW of that story was able to get out, and so can you. Good luck!

1. Evelyn says:

Re texts- theres a ditsy glitch in the texting part of my phone where, I dont see the text but the sender gets a read reciept. In the info window for their specific contact, I found I could turn off “send read receipts”

54. OP, I see you’ve been in the comments and it sounds like you’re doing all the right things here, so I won’t offer advice (you’re already doing it all!). But I wanted to say that it’s so great you recognised this for what it was, asked for help, and are getting away early. Your life will be better without her in it purely on the basis that *she isn’t in it being rapey and coercive and explosively violent and scary*.

It takes strength and good sense to get away from people like her, because they use all the kindest and most generous parts of yourself against you, and I’m really glad you’re protecting yourself.

55. I have nothing to add to this other than the fact that this story made me want to throw my phone like it was covered in black widow spiders.

HOLY CRAP, this is so not okay.

56. This letter seriously freaked me out. In my head I kept yelling, “RUN, RUN! Run far and fast!” LW, you deserve so much better than this. I know it can be scary to be alone, truly I do, but being by yourself has to be better than this.

Stay safe, I’m sending good vibes your way.

I am so glad you are taking all this great advice to heart, OP. You are strong and smart to ask for help and advice.

Everyone has covered all the ways in which this chick’s behaviour was not ok re: violence, coercion, trying to rape you (!!!!!). Cos that’s what that was, you were right. Well done you for naming it, especially in the moment which is so hard.

I want to address this steaming pile of crap: “You always have to get exactly what you fucking want”

Even after what had gone before, I practically spit my coffee when I read that. Who does she think she is?? You dated for ONE MONTH and she was already pulling out the “you always xyz” bullshit? The fuck? If that was the only red flag, I would still have said run a mile. It’s a classic typecasting/negging move, but a really dumb one to try so early on.

Stay strong!

58. Stylo says:

Can I say that all the talk of abusive relationships between women is a huge relief and kind of cathartic? I swear I’m not trying to make this about me but I feel like this is a thing that is Not Talked About and sometimes feel like I’m making all of it up, current and past.

I really wish you the best and a quick dash out of there, LW. You deserve better and you deserve to feel safe.

1. Traffic_Spiral says:

Don’t worry. You’re not making it about you, as you’re not the only wlw out there. It’s perfectly relevant to the LW to point out that abuse among women isn’t talked about much so she might have a harder time identifying it as abuse. And yes, the fact that toxic masculinity is a thing doesn’t mean that wlw abusive relationships are Not A Thing.

2. LilyR says:

I saw someone else mention them above, but I’m going to give another shout-out to The Network/La Red http://www.tnlr.org here – the invisibility and lack of support structures for dealing with domestic violence between women is exactly why they were founded. They’ve since broadened to support LGBT+, polyamorous, and BDSM folks, and have great hotline/online support even if you’re not Boston-local.

3. Turtle Candle says:

I agree completely, and I think it’s well worth talking about. I’ve seen the “well you have to put up with it; you can’t be picky about your relationship like straight women can” argument with sickening frequency, and it’s both unfair and wrong. Talking publicly about these issues is so important.

1. *smacks that argument back into the medieval cesspool where it belongs*

4. OP says:

I thought the same thing when I read the post about the woman trying to coerce her girlfriend into marriage- I agree, it needs to be brought up

5. Savvy says:

Yeah, it is really important to talk about and see how common it actually is. Besides the idea that “women don’t abuse,” I feel like there’s also a subtle kind of pressure to model happy relationships when you’re queer (or poly or into BDSM), to somehow disprove the myth that those relationships are inherently unhealthy or dysfunctional. And I personally have an instinct to trust fellow queers– because they’re “family.” Unfortunately abusers will use that benefit of the doubt whenever they can in order to operate 😦

59. WorriedGuy says:

Damn.

So here’s a question. I’m straight & my girlfriend reacts in a similar manner to this. She doesn’t yell/have any physical altercation but both times she’s reacted in this manner, she was drunk & i got angry, told her she was over reacting & went to bed. We’ve been together a year & 4 months; but i do get sick when coming home expecting she would find something to get sarcastic/coercive about. She has apologized about both instances (as she has been in abusive/cheating relationships before me) but I’ve stood my ground both times this happened & she didn’t threaten to self-harm, block the door when leaving (not this occasion anyway). Thoughts? How do i get my self-esteem back up & is it worth staying with this woman?

1. moss says:

You get sick (with dread I am assuming) on your way home? Then the answer to “is it worth staying” is NO. And you can get your self esteem back by any number of things, primarily by not associating with people who, when you are around them, you feel bad more often than you feel good. Therapy. Exercise. Developing a skill. Sleeping enough, eating well. Taking time in silence to listen to your own self and hear how amazing you are . Eventually your voice speaking lovingly to yourself will drown out the vicious voice of the others and you will feel more free and happy. And you will be able to say goodbye the person who is acting unlovingly to you. Specifically if the main interaction you have with your girlfriend is that she acts sarcastic and you feel coerced by her, it’s time to bounce.

2. Traffic_Spiral says:

Friend, we don’t even have to go into the details of your sex life or the incidents in question. You get sick coming home expecting she would find something to get sarcastic/coercive about. That’s not a good relationship. Even if you’re 100% in the wrong and she’s upset because you’re actually being a jerk (which I don’t think is the case) you’re still in a messed-up relationship and need to end it.

The relationship is unhealthy. You don’t have to allocate fault to the parties – we aren’t in a court room analyzing joint liability for calculation of damages. You just have to be like ‘this relationship isn’t working out” and end it.

3. goddessoftransitory says:

This isn’t a good relationship. How often a person is abusive isn’t the question: it’s the fact the abuse exists. If she randomly chopped off one of your fingers at one year intervals, would you still consider the relationship good? Would you go “well, hey, what’s one finger? I’ve still got nine! It’s not like she took a THUMB, etc.”

Treating someone meanly to make them feel small is abuse. Your stomach knows it and that’s why it knots up. Because even if today isn’t a “bad day,” you never know when the next bad day will spring on you.

4. mari4212 says:

Echoing other people here: if you get sick to your stomach when you think about her being there, you should not be together. She doesn’t have to be physically hurting you to still be abusive-emotional abuse is still abuse and can be just as dangerous long-term. Abuse isn’t about violence, it’s about one partner wanting control over the other partner and the power dynamics that creates in a relationship.

I worked for a DV organization for a year. Our primary focus was women fleeing DV/IPV relationships, but we also worked with men in abusive relationships. This is a list of warning signs/questions to ask yourself about your relationship that they put up: http://www.hruth.org/warning-signs/.

As for self-esteem. What are things you like doing? What are ways you could spend your time that you wouldn’t be spending with her doing things that are fun/uplifting for you? What are ways you could volunteer to help out other people/the environment/animals/your cause of the heart? Doing something simple and positive for someone not you and not about a romantic relationship can help you feel better about yourself and your world.

60. Daniel Amen says:

Damn.

so here’s a question. i’m straight and my girlfriend reacts in a similar manner to this (as in, there’s been the coercion and belittling whenever ‘no’ was said to sex). however, she doesn’t yell/have any physical altercation but both times that it’s happened she was drunk and there were ugly words coming from her mouth (exactly the sentence: “you always get what you fucking want”); i wasn’t drunk; i got angry and told her she was over-reacting and proceeded to go to bed – thinking that avoiding the convo would shut the matter up. but she carried on like ops’ did. we’ve been together for a year and 4 months; however i do sort of get sick when coming home expecting she would find something to get sarcastic/coercive about. she has apologized on both instances (although she’s been in abusive/cheating instances before me), took responsibility on EVERY instance she ‘over-reacted’ and attempted to make up for it by preventing herself from conducting herself in such manner. in other related attempts; we were arguing one time; she did prevent me from leaving the flat to go to the loo; and in yet another instance i didn’t want to give her the keys to the appt as we’d just had a different row and i was afraid i would get back and the flat would be tarnished (however this was early on in the relationship; and it was a silly argument – something about me getting a call from a mate of mine at 3am and her instantly thinking it was a female. even though it wasn’t. early on in the relationship). thoughts? how do i get my self-esteem back? is it worth staying with this woman? moreover, she gets jealous when i’m out with her; she accepts me for who i am; but is constantly perplexed about why i don’t get jealous over her, more to the point that she gets irate and has a go at me for not getting jealous over her.

1. claire de la lune says:

Your partner should make you feel good about yourself. If you are coming home dreading interacting with her, that’s a red flag (among others in this comment) and you should get out ASAP.

2. morticia says:

It’s possible that the first step to getting your self-esteem back is to end your relationship with this woman. She sounds pretty toxic. I am sorry you are going through this.

3. JustKate says:

She sounds awful, and there are red flags allllllllll over the place. I think it would be good if you, too, talk to a domestic violence hotline, and I definitely think you should start thinking about an exit strategy – who’s name is the flat under, where you could go for a few days after the breakup, etc. Good luck to you.

4. whingedrinking says:

Think very carefully about why you haven’t ended the relationship already, and be honest with yourself.
Is it because she’ll be angry and upset and will make life hard for you? Yes, that will probably happen – but it looks like she’s pretty upset a lot of the time already and definitely making life hard for you.
Is it because change is painful and difficult? Yes, it definitely is that – but it seems like your relationship is also painful and difficult.
Is it because you’re afraid of what it will be like to come home to a place without her? That can be scary – but right now you’re dreading coming home to a place *with* her.
Is it because you keep hoping she’ll change? People don’t change without a compelling reason. If you stay, she doesn’t have that reason.
Of course there are other reasons why people don’t end bad relationships, but you don’t mention that you live in a foreign country where your ability to stay is contingent on her or any similar complications. So yeah, I’m inclined to think it’s one of the above.

5. Indywind says:

Thoughts?
This jumped out at me: “she accepts me for who i am” but “there’s been the coercion and belittling whenever ‘no’ was said to sex” and “she gets irate and has a go at me for not getting jealous over her.”

Getting irate, coercive and belittling are not accepting. More like the opposite.

Possibly you, she, or both of you want to believe she is accepting; she may be even trying to be. But those behaviors are not demonstrating acceptance. As you’re deciding how you want to go forward, remove “she accepts me for who I am” from your considerations; it does not apply.

At best, she might be trying to accept you and repeatedly failing.
In that case–which is the most charitable and forgiving explanation I can think of– either acceptance is not possible because the two of you are fundamentally incompatible and the kindest thing for both of you would be to stop frustrating each other; or acceptance is not possible because she lacks essential self-awareness, behavior-management, and relationship skills (you might also) and being in relationship with each other highlights those lacks, like poking a spot that’s already sore; the kindest thing for both of you would be to back off from each other so that each can focus on working on his/her own stuff without getting poked in your sore spots. (BTW: You don’t get to decide for her that she needs to work on her stuff; you DO get to decide for you if you need to back off so that her stuff stops affecting you, or so that you can work on your own stuff.)

How do you get your self-esteem back, the very short and oversimplified answer: You practice having good boundaries(taking responsibility for your own choices/actions, leaving other people responsible for theirs), recognizing your own efficacy (ability to make choices and take actions), celebrating your successes or good efforts and admitting and correcting/making amends for your mistakes without excessive shame, making deliberate effort to cultivate resiliency of attitude and behaviors and develop any skills you may be lacking. A short course of therapy or working with self-help materials may help to kick-start the process that eventually can become automatic habit (like using a personal trainer/nutritionist/physiotherapist or prescription fitness plan for a short time to recover from physical injury or illness and get settled in new health-supportive habits). Several self-help resources and background readings are linked from this site.

1. WTF??? “she gets irate and has a go at me for not getting jealous over her” What kind of insane person does that??? She’s no good, toss her back!

6. Nic says:

Oh my! Red flags going off all over the place for me on this one. The biggest is you feeling ill on your way home, but another huge one was the early silly fight where she assumed your mate was female and started a fight. Also, Jealousy is NOT required for a relationship, and in my opinion has no place in one. If you trust your partner you should never need to feel jealous.

7. It doesn’t sound like she actually accepts you for who you are at all. I’m sorry she has been in an abusive relationship before but that doesn’t excuse her being abusive towards YOU. As long as you’re in this relationship it’s going to damage your self-esteem so working on boosting it is going to be very hard, if not impossible to do while you’re still with her.

8. [quote]as in, there’s been the coercion and belittling whenever ‘no’ was said to sex[/quote]

This is never okay. Having sex is a ‘hell yeah’ from all sides or not at all, regardless of genders involved. Very serious red flag.

[quote]she did prevent me from leaving the flat[/quote]

Another red flag!

[quote]she gets jealous when i’m out with her; she accepts me for who i am; but is constantly perplexed about why i don’t get jealous over her [/quote]

Jealousy is not a virtue! There is nothing in your post that indicates that she accepts you for who you are. Even worse, she wants you to be jealous too. Not being jealous is a GOOD thing, don’t let her try to convince you otherwise.

Like in OP’s story, she is telling you that you always get what you want, while she is only showing through her actions that she always wants to get what she wants, regardless of your thoughts and feelings on it.

I think you’re better off without her.

61. Just a quick plug for the DV Hotline. It’s free, 24/7, and I can vouch for them. They almost single-handedly got me out of a very bad situation.

They have a chat feature that you can use discreetly at work or a library if you need to do that. Note: you may feel that things haven’t gotten quite bad enough for you to “deserve” DV resources and you may feel silly or dramatic using them. It’s very normal to feel that way – no matter how bad it has gotten. A big part of abuse is making the person you are abusing feel as though they are silly or dramatic for their discomfort at what you’re doing. Cap is right that flowers and breakfast are *part of that* cycle, not proof that it’s not really who she is.

I am so, so proud of you for recognizing what’s happening and feeling your feelings of discomfort in such a way that you reached out. I want to add that when you’re being abused or suspect that you are, the pressure to leave can also be overwhelming. While I still think that is 100% the right move, please give yourself space to be conflicted about it, to take care of yourself, and to focus on *safety* no matter where you land.

For a long time, I couldn’t leave – and the emotional and logistical reasons for that were real, even though it was true that I needed to. It wasn’t helpful to hear a chorus of “GET OUT OF THERE” from folks that didn’t have to live my life or deal with any fallout. If that’s you for some reason (although after just one month, hopefully not!) remember that you don’t have to eat the whole elephant at once. Without making any decisions, you can make a safety plan. Write it down, role-play with yourself. You need to go to your parents’ house? Okay, what route will you take? What do you need to bring and where do you keep that stuff? What shelters or friends’ places could serve as a backup? How do you feel about involving law enforcement?

In the moment, you may or may not (as you’ve noticed) be able to clearly think all that through. I hope you leave, but if you do nothing else at all, do that. I am so sorry, and I am sending love through the wires.

1. Commander Banana says:

Yes, this – thank you for the suggestion about the DV Hotline. I work in a domestic violence program and respond to calls from people like the OP, and it can be really, really, really hard, logistically and financially, to leave an abusive situation EVEN IF YOU WANT TO.

It’s easy to bystanders to yell GET OUT NOW! but in practice, it’s often really hard! Because of where I live, a lot of our clients are undocumented, un- or underemployed, have children in common with their abuser, and often aren’t on the lease. A lot don’t speak English very well, have no drivers’ license, etc.etc – there are very real barriers to leaving abusive situations for a lot of people, and that’s why we often see DV victims cycling in and out of homelessness as a result!

I’m glad you mentioned the small steps. Even something like safety planning, just HAVING a plan, can go a long way for a DV victim. Finding a backup plan for petcare, packing a suitcase you keep in the car (if you have a car), making copies of your important documents, finding backup solutions for short-term housing, getting a burner phone that you hide, attending a support group, etc. – all of these are important, concrete steps, and that’s why we urge our clients to take those steps even if they aren’t sure they want to leave.

Abuse often intensifies the more enmeshed a victim is with their abuser, and abusers often deliberately cut off avenues of independence.

62. Run, LW! Run like Godzilla is about to step on you! Run like you’re trying to avoid being incinerated by lava. Run like the wind.

[FWIW, and ignore if you don’t have a similar phone, but my phone is ALWAYS on mute, no vibration, no sound, and I can still use white noise apps and alarm apps. I don’t hear social media or text pings or phone calls, ever. If your phone doesn’t do that, or if you are a sound sleeper, it’s never a terrible idea to have an olde skoole alarm clock as back-up ANYway–I got mine on Amazon for about $7; it plugs in and can run off a battery if the power goes out–but if money is tight, test to see if your phone alarm works when it is on mute. You can also assign a silent ring to your ex-GF’s phone numbers and all “no I.D.” / unknown numbers. They’re not hard to find.] 1. (I offer the “try your alarm on mute” / “silent ringtone” advice only if there are REASONS why you can’t shut off your phone 100%, such as a sick elder who might call you with a health emergency or the kind of job that might require you to be on call sometimes. If you don’t have those kinds of reasons, disregard!) 1. I think you can set individual contacts to “do not disturb”, so that’s worth looking into! Although this lady seems like a “block on everything and gtfo” kinda situation, so maybe that point is moot. 1. 8mate says: On some phones, you can do the opposite, too. I can set do not disturb and then add some exceptions that will ring through no matter what. So there are lost of possible options for making sure you don’t even have to see this person’s attempts to contact you. 63. hhhhhh says: I had a friend that did stuff like physical restraint and blocking pathways and yeah. It fucking sucked. That’s more than enough reason to want to leave on its’ own. Restraint and being caged in can be traumatic by itself. Hope you get opportunities to warn about the person but if you don’t feel up to the potential backlash in doing so it’s okay. Got to protect yourself. 64. EllenS says: I don’t know which is more disturbing: the idea that this woman is intentionally manipulating/gaslighting you, or the possibility that she might actually think her behavior is normal and acceptible. “I didn’t think you’d react like that?” For crying out loud, what sort of beings has she spent every minute of her life with up to now? Who *wouldn’t* react like that, and how did her expectations (if real) get so, so, so very far from reality? Yikes in every direction. 65. Apologies if this is a repeat comment, but the flip side to a small queer community is getting “team you” on a simple, low-drama script, as well as asking them to be a bit of a buffer at social events. When I had a friend go through a breakup not unlike this, we found, “[Friend] doesn’t want to be with [Ex] anymore and I respect that,” got the job done with a healthy dose of, “[Friend] needs you to respect this decision.” And remember: people who brush passed that ARE ALSO PART OF THE PROBLEM, not you. 66. Amy says: GTFO ASAP The most generous possible explanation for this woman’s behavior is that she doesn’t understand how to be in a relationship without trying to sexually assault people. That is already incredibly not OK–being ignorant wouldn’t excuse her actions or make you any safer–and also pretty hard to believe. The more likely explanation is that she knows full well that trying to force someone into having sex with you isn’t OK, that yelling slurs and insults at people isn’t OK, that physically grabbing and restraining people isn’t OK, that the entirety of her behavior is absolutely beyond the pale, and she’s choosing to do it anyways. That is even more not OK. There is never a good reason to pressure someone into having sex with you. There is no acceptable reason to ignore someone’s ‘no’ when they don’t want to have sex with you. And when you do an unreasonable, rapey, absolutely unacceptable thing, and the person you’re doing it to reacts badly, “I didn’t think you’d react like that” is a TERRIBLE THING TO SAY. What did she think, that her behavior would be OK as long as you just rolled over and gave into her grossness? No. That just tells me that she has no moral compass–she doesn’t care if she hurts you as long as she gets what she wants. That’s awful. Dump her. Get her out of your space, make sure she doesn’t have a key (if she does, get the locks changed ASAP, for your own peace of mind), and tell her you’re done with her. Block her on everything. If you have any of her stuff, either bring it to the dumping (if you decide to do that in person and it’s a reasonable amount) or put it in a box and mail it to her. Don’t try to be friends. Don’t try to explain why (if she doesn’t already know why after all this, there’s no way you telling her would help, because clearly she doesn’t want to understand). If you can, I strongly suggest finding a loved one you trust, getting them over to your place with you (or you to their place), and having a day or two of plain old comfort in a safe space with them. You can tell them all the details or not, your choice. But being with someone might help you feel safer (less worried about this woman showing up again, since you wouldn’t have to handle it alone if she did), and also anyone who’s been through a rough thing deserves some time with a good friend and a good movie. 67. Reblogged this on The Monster's Ink and commented: This is a gentle reminder that abusive behavior is still abusive when a woman does it. 68. Solo says: GTFO GTFO GTFO This isn’t just “too much” fighting. This is HER picking a fight over something THAT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. If one person doesn’t want to do a thing, ESPECIALLY a sexual thing, you don’t do the thing with that person. Period. It is not negotiable. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of the relationship _could_ be: if your would-be partner can’t respect that, they don’t respect YOU, and it is time for you to leave. 69. absurdfiction says: There are a lot of comments here, so I don’t know if this particular bit has been covered, but one of the many blaring bullshit alarms this woman is setting off is so stupidly bullshitty I have to point it out: the “We are still getting to know each other” alarm. Um, yeah, she’s right about that. You are still getting to know each other. That is typically when new romantic partners are on their best behavior. This entitled, abusive, frightening behavior is her at her best. Can you imagine getting to know her better? What lurks below this (cough) charming facade she has been so sweetly wooing you with? I am not trying to embarrass you, LW. I realize this is a sucky situation for you, and she probably does have some nice qualities, for you to have stuck around for a month, and to be questioning your reactions, rather than her horrific behavior. But imagine if a new acquaintance was talking about how they sexually assault their partner and then prevent them from leaving their own home when they don’t get their way. Would you stand around thinking, “Gee, this is someone I would like to get to know better”? Because I think you’d have all the information you’d need to get as far away from that person as fast as humanly possible. If a potential partner says or does things that you would not tolerate from a friend, that is a very good reason to cut and run. I hope this perspective gives you another way to see through this woman’s bullshit. I really hope you choose to not take her up on getting to know one another better. You deserve so, so, so much better than this. 70. Maria says: Abusers are bold and wild. Imagine having the audacity to say that a conflict about someone’s ability to control their body and environment would be solved with more intimacy. Fucking wild. 1. God, right? I read that and a fucking chill went down my spine, because when someone says that to you in the heat of the moment it almost makes sense and just…HOW WHY OH MY GOD HOW DOES THAT WORK??? 2. This blew my mind. I did a “whuuuut?!” It’s *MY* body. If my guy wants to continue when I’ve told him no, then we have a serious issue. Ditto if he tells me he’s not into it. That’s … just plain respect, never mind common sense. Hells no. 71. Cora says: OP, you rock. Being a normal human being, there may be a few times in the future where you have doubts, even with all of these supportive internet strangers and your IRL friends telling you that you did the right thing. To help combat the doubt, when I read your quotes from the ex-GF, all I could think was, “She’s not talking to you. She’s talking to some ghost from her past.” This may sound hurtful, but could be resoundingly freeing: I wonder if she ever saw you for you. In other words, you are a normal person who saw something in her that you wanted to get to know better, to spend time with and kiss and share intimate personal stuff. From this distant perspective, she sounds like she identified you as The One Who Will Solve All of My Life Because I Fucking Hate Myself. You were never allowed to not want sex or just be you because she assigned you a specific role, instead getting to know you for you. That’s easier to leave. If she had actually gotten to know you, it would hurt a great deal to leave that, because it hard to reject someone who cared. I don’t think sh ever really, truly cared about you. Which, OW. Sorry. But if she didn’t care, there’s not much to leave. IMPORTANT REMINDER: she didn’t not care about you because you’re an unloveable troll who doesn’t deserve love. She did not care about you because she’s too busy hating herself. 72. As a lesbian who has been raped and abused by other lesbians: oh my god I understand the patriarchal lie that niggles in the back of your brain that Women Just Don’t Do These Things and You Will Never Find Love, so from one queer woman to another: THIS IS BAAAAAD take the Captain’s advice and run, this is so, so bad and you deserve so much better than this. My favourite test is to ask myself if a man was doing the thing the woman/nb person I am dating is doing, would I flip out? If yes, then it’s inexcusable and either needs to be addressed and corrected, or I have to peace out. Also like, people who use self harm to manipulate others are doing SUCH A SHITTY THING oh my god LW I just want to wrap you in a blanket and matchmake you with a ridiculously kind and lovely queer lady who actually deserves you oh my goddddd. She is out there and you will find her, and this person that you literally cannot trust not to trash your apartment is not her. Godspeed exorcising her from your life. 1. thebewilderness says: I am fairly consistently outraged by the persistent denial of women’s humanity. Certainly 93% male perps is not equal to 7% female perps, but women are people and we do the things people do. 1. B says: Men on average have slightly more physical capacity to wreak bodily harm than the average woman otherwise I think we are all more similar than different 2. D-Slice says: Same here – I think “if my hetero friend’s boyfriend was doing this, would I be terrified for her?” And that didn’t make me leave for a long time, but it sure did give me a very slow reality check. 1. YUP. Since, at the very least… you’re recognizing something is off. And that’s a great first step! 73. shawshaw says: You are re-living exactly what I went through with a manipulative ex who took every “no” from me as a personal affront, and an obstacle to be overcome where he would just try every possible combination of words or actions to get what he wanted out of me like some kind of game until I would be too exhausted and brow-beaten to resist anymore. The captain has this type of abuser’s behaviors down pat to a scary degree. When I finally decided to break up with him guess what happened? In this exact order (seriously, this is spooky): Insisted on a face to face meeting, treated all of my explanations as unreasonable (just like every other “no” I gave him! Quelle surprise!), tried to use a meeting to exchange each other’s stuff as another opportunity to coerce me into giving him another chance, tried every avenue to get to me after I cut off communication completely including distant family members and friends, and threatened self-harm to a serious enough degree that law enforcement got involved. It is seriously freaky just how much The Captain has this guy’s number – and likely your girlfriend’s as well. Do not be surprised in the least if any of this happens. Be even less surprised if you feel yourself wanting to give in with every fiber of your being during every step of it. Manipulators’ main tool is sewing self-doubt in their partners. It’s insidious, but if you can break free from its spell, you will feel so much better, I can’t even describe it. It might take some time, but trust me when I tell you it feels wonderful being able to just be you and love yourself again. And then you might feel angry. That relationship and the anger I have left over from it are the source of some brain weasels I live with now that I’m still figuring out how to manage. I hate that they’re there so much. I was in that bad relationship for a year and a half. I’m hoping with all my might that you will get out before you get weasels of your own. 74. S says: When I saw that she said “have you ever been in an abusive relationship?” my brain automatically filled in “or is this your first?” You recognized this for what it is when you told her she was acting like a rapist. She may have some likable traits, but she is truly a horrible person. You, on the other hand, sound reasonable, thoughtful and kind, and you deserve to be valued and listened to and treated respectfully. There is someone who will want to give you all that, so dump this MFAH as fast as possible so you and she can find each other. **really gentle Jedi hugs if you want them** 1. Emily says: Mine went with “Have you ever been in an abusive relationship before [or am I going to have to train you from scratch]?” 75. RabbitRabbit says: She’s turning this into a hostage situation, not a relationship – both hostage-taking of her (hitting herself in the face? or is she going to claim you beat her?) and of you. Please please please get out. Change your locks, tell her explicitly to never contact you again, block her on all social media. 76. Skirt says: Hello, I am a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with crimes and I can tell you the (soon to be ex I hope)GF could be charged with crimes as a result of the behavior you have described. I am not saying this to suggest you should report her or anything like that, but I am offering this truth in case it helps you build up your resolve to leave / break up / stay away / be done. Someone who has committed crimes against you (multiple!) is almost never a good partner. I am also here as a queer to tell you, you will find someone. The pool is smaller but not non existent AND you deserve better than this. 77. slythwolf says: You DESERVE to get exactly what you fucking want, LW. Good luck with this, it’s a daunting situation, but I have faith in your ability to take good care of yourself and get out of it. 78. slythwolf says: Also, if someone knows that they don’t trust themself to stop until they have gotten off, the Captain is correct in that they have a responsibility not to have sex with anyone in order to prevent themself from committing assault. 79. Encyclopaedia Britannicus says: Just a point here: abuse and manipulation are learned behaviours. Learning complex patterns of abusive behaviour takes time. This rapist is 31, and has dated before? You are not her first victim. She has done this before, probably destroyed relationships and people with this before — and is still doing it. She is not going to change and nothing you can do can change her or fix her, because she is an adult with agency who is choosing to commit criminal acts, and choosing, over and over and over, actively choosing not to change. There are real biological variations between humans, but abusers depend on too many culturally specific excuses to keep on abusing, and that part is all learned. It takes some time to develop bad habits that are this awful, and learn to twist arguments around so quickly, and always in her favour. If this is due to some kind of abusive childhood, that is her responsibility to fix with years/decades of therapy and hard work on her part. You are not her therapist; it is not your job to fix her. If this is abusive behaviour she has learned to use as an adult, then she’s learned it by abusing/being abused by multiple partners before you. Again: that’s a problem too big for anyone to fix quickly enough for her to be safe in a relationship with anyone right now. (And that assumes that she wants to change and actively works on it — which she does not.) Someone going at this level of abuse this quickly has done this before, and had relationships end because of it. Which means, she is not some poor clueless young thing who doesn’t know or understand the crimes she’s committing.Your ex is not ‘acting like’ a rapist – SHE IS A RAPIST. Remind yourself of this, whenever she starts playing the victim in your direction: SHE IS A RAPIST. This may sound horrible, but in a weird way, that SHE IS A RAPIST is good for you – when you tell the truth about her, especially in a small queer community, you are highly likely to find fellow victims all over the place. You probably won’t even have to finish the sentence that starts with “Well. I’d been dating Rapey McRapist–” and the other person/people will just go, “Ohhhhh, yeah — SHE IS A RAPIST” (I mean, they may not say that outright, because patriarchy, misogyny, and homophobia are real things that many people struggle with, but people will know SHE IS A RAPIST.) There’s a phrase I like, because it gets right to the heart of this: “Tell the truth and shame the devil” Because society is messed up about sex, you will feel shame; the shame you feel is not yours — it’s hers. Tell yourself (and other people if/when you want to) the truth about what she did, and don’t make excuses for her or minimise her behaviour or try to somehow smooth things over and make things work. You cannot ‘make this work’ because SHE IS A RAPIST. When it comes to friends and family I want to keep in my life, I have some sympathy that I’m dropping a bombshell on them. I try to set the conversation I want to have: “Remember how you always imagined you’d be sympathetic and supportive to your friend if they admitted abuse to you, and how you’d be righteously angry at the abuser? This is that conversation — are you okay having it now, or do you want to take a moment to prepare yourself?” And as to those idiots who try to make excuses for the rapist, get to the heart if it with them, too. I’ve found, “You can’t treat rapists/abusers like people who obey the normal social rules. A rapist/abuser is, by definition, someone who breaks all those rules, lies repeatedly, and cannot be trusted.” works well, to give them a chance to be reasonable. After that, I tend to use “Are you a rapist?” or the classic “So how many times have you hit your wife?” to confront them on their bullshit. If they get angry with me, I’ll follow it with something like, “It’s not reasonable to defend the actions of a rapist — it’s enabling the abuser to keep abusing. Right now, you’re being the reason women stay in abusive relationships for twenty years — knock that shit off.” After that, we’re into, “Well, you were/are defending the actions of a rapist, and you’re getting so defensive, I assumed it was because you were/are a rapist/abuser yourself.” and then “If you don’t want me to treat you like a rapist, stop acting like one” territory. This *is* a nuclear option, but I don’t want to be friends with people who disrespect and undermine me by defending my abuser. Because you can’t tell abusers by looking, it is possible some of your friends may be/have been rapist or abusers, or may be/have been in abusive relationships that they haven’t recognised or dealt with. You can’t have those people in your life, because they will try to undermine you. You pointing out abuse and confronting the issue is a threat to their ability to keep up their houseboat cruise down the Nile. tl;dr: You cannot ‘make this work’ because SHE IS A RAPIST. You cannot fix her because SHE IS A RAPIST. You were right to leave because SHE IS A RAPIST. (Note: I’m not saying rapists are unsalvageable forevermore. I am saying that getting over the collection of beliefs a rapist has to put together in order to justify and excuse their behaviour takes years of therapy and dedicated effort and the ability to admit at some point that you are a rapist and what you’re doing/have done is Not Okay, and then lifelong vigilance to prevent backsliding. Very very very very few people are willing to do that work.) (Also, I’m sorry this got so long. It hit some of my own triggers — did you notice? *shakes head at self* — but I think there are some points in there that need to be said, and I can’t edit this any more. If you get curious about wtf was going on in her head, Lundy Bancroft wrote “Why Does He Do That?” which is triggering to read (RL examples and case studies) but worth it, and works just as well for s ame-sex relationships if yo pronoun shift as you go.) You can do this! Cheerleaders: *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* 80. Queen of scarves says: Hi LW , I 100% agree with everything the captain has written and I want to commend your good instincts. Keep listening to them. Quick sort-of counterexample: when I first started dating my current partner, I was initially worried that we would have mismatched libidos: the first time they stayed the night I was feeling frisky in the morning but when I attempted to initiate sex they made it clear they would rather sleep. Now I was very frustrated and I probably asked a couple of times and if I’m honest there was some mild sulking on my part. And when I look back on my behaviour that morning I feel bad that I didn’t respect their boundaries better,because even that was a bit much – I should have just said “that’s OK” straight away and let them sleep. No-one is owed sex and everyone can survive a case of the “blue balls”. Over the next few dates I asked myself whether we were well matched in this way and other ways and monitored if I was happy to keep having sexytimes with this person and if it was going to work for me. I concluded yes, and kept seeing them. We had some conversations about what they’re comfortable with in terms of my initiating sex. These conversations were calm and friendly and also tended to happen not during sexytimes. So go forth and be your awesome self away from her coercive ways, someone will come along who is a better match for you – and that starts with respecting your boundaries. 81. I do apologize if I’m repeating anything anyone else has said, but I had a couple of ideas to share and may be too busy to read the whole thread before it closes otherwise. OP, jedi hugs if wanted and I recommend that you read “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. Don’t be put off by the male pronoun in the title – it is acknowledged that a same sex partner can take on the abuser role, and there is a chapter on same sex relationships. As Bancroft says, it’s like they all go to the same abuse academy – which clearly has a module on buying flowers and otherwise acting nice after having been horribly abusive. One of the many great insights shared in this thread is that such behaviour does not constitute meaningful remorse. While the likes of Bancroft have written about how to ascertain whether an abusive partner is truly sorry, as has also been mentioned above, we are surrounded by so many misleading myths. These include the myths about fighting being healthy and relationships taking work, again as mentioned above. Another is the notion that there must be something wrong with a person who has not yet had a long-term relationship. Under “Ask a Question”, there is a reference to a potential Captain Awkward book. I would love to see a book like this, focussed on challenging these pervasive cultural myths. I even have an idea about how this could be realized as a collaborative writing project. I strongly believe that the world needs this book! Dear OP, I welcome you to the abusive relationship survivors’ club and wish you all the very best. 82. JMegan says: Sending you love, LW. You deserve so much better than this. 83. Mary Ellen says: My response to anyone who is upset that they “didn’t get off” when their partner wants to stop having sex is “you have hands, right?” 84. CappaRed says: And I would absolutely 100% not meet her alone again. I don’t know why she started hitting herself in your story, but if she does that again when you’re alone with her, she can try to claim you were the one who hit her and gave her those bruises later. Protect yourself by only communicating the break up via text/phone/email, or if you feel you must face-to-face, do it in PUBLIC. Even if that’s not the reason she’s hitting herself in the heat of the moment, I bet you$100 she will think of it after the fact if she can. Don’t give her the opportunity.

85. OP and everyone else here who has been abused, I want so badly for you all to know that you are not stupid, you are not naive, your were not foolish to think that someone who acted like they cared about you actually cared about you. Abusers are very very good at tricking people into thinking they care about them, if they weren’t nobody would stick around long enough to get abused. If you had just started playing chess, would you beat yourself up for losing to a master? Then don’t beat yourself up for getting abused by someone who has spent their whole lives learning how to get away with it.

86. Private Editor says:

Cap, I’m sorry to leave this here, but I can’t seem to figure out an appropriate email to use for this. Something is up with the ads on this post. I’ll be down at the bottom of the page reading comments, and my browser jumps to the ads every time one of them restarts/reloads. I’m constantly getting yanked back up to the top. I thought you would want to know.

1. Yes, this happened to me, too. I think it was an ad for Dial soap.

2. JenniferP says:

Hi Private Editor, that’s very annoying! Can you document the ad (screencap if necessary) and report it here? https://wordpress.com/help/contact

I can’t fix this (I have no control on what ads show or how, and I can’t see what you’re seeing). That is not supposed to be happening.

May Patreon soon make us ad-free here.

87. LW, you say you don’t know why you wanted to stop in the middle of sex, but I think it’s completely possible you intuited something was off about your girlfriend and that’s what made you hesitant. This is good! Your alarm system is working perfectly and you have all the tools you need to keep yourself safe from this predator. And the fact you have such a good sense of boundaries and you’re comfortable asking for what you want (even when people are putting tremendous pressure on you) says very good things about your ability to form healthy future relationships. You deserve those relationships, and you can’t find them if all your energy is focused on your current girlfriend’s abusive behavior.