I'm in an unhappy, unhealthy relationship-- I'm scared I might even be emotionally abusing my boyfriend. Should I break up with him now or wait until later? How can I make sure that the break-up will last?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (57 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
At first our relationship was happy and affectionate, but I gradually realized that we weren’t very compatible, so I tried to break it off decently with him. We got back together within a week. Since then I’ve tried serious, no contact break-ups maybe a dozen times, but we’ve never been able to stay apart for more than a few days. It’s now been over a year since my first break-up attempt, and I’ve gone from dissatisfied to frustrated to miserable. I’m starting to feel hopeless that I’ll ever be able to end it.
What makes it so hard? I’m under a lot of stress in school, and when I’m swamped with work in the middle of the semester, it’s all too easy to tell myself that I don’t have the mental energy for a break-up right now. I also have virtually no social life and few friends outside of him at college. I’ve been suffering from depression recently and I’ve had some bad nights, which are difficult to handle alone. During those desperate 4 AMs, I always feel so damn lonely and sorry for myself-- next thing you know, I’m calling up the ex again. Pathetic!
I’m new to this depression thing. I used to be really stable, cheerful, and strong, with a good group of close friends. I think that if I were like that again, I wouldn’t have to cling to my boyfriend. My counselor suggested I wait before breaking up with him (“You can’t fix all your problems at once”), saying that I should try to build up more friends before I do it. This all makes sense to me.
But I didn’t tell her how bad the situation is. The relationship is just a mess of anger and fights and misery, and it makes me crazy with frustration. I’ve never treated anyone (family, friends, exes) even remotely as badly as I treat him. Sometimes I think I truly hate him. I recoil from his touch, snap at him, constantly mock him, drop little put-downs about his intelligence, etc.
He has to walk on eggshells around me, because I blame him for everything that goes wrong. I’ll take any tiny problem as an excuse to pick a huge fight-- and these are ugly fights. I’ll call him a fucking idiot, a worthless piece of shit, total garbage, etc. I tell him that that I have no respect for him, that he can’t satisfy me physically or intellectually, and that I only keep him around because he buys me lunch. In short, I say the cruelest things possible; once he started to cry and I still wouldn’t stop. I’ve even pushed and shoved him one or two times.
Just typing all of this makes me sick. I think this is abuse, and I’ve talked to him about it. He said that it didn’t bother him that much, and he was used to it anyway. (He has an unusually controlling, punishing mother; he’s hinted a bit at an unpleasant childhood.)
Regardless of whether one labels it abuse, it’s clearly unhealthy. The sooner it ends, the better. And winter break is a good time to try for a break-up: I don’t have school to worry about, I have close, supportive friends and family in my hometown, and I have to be physically separated from my boyfriend.
Whew, that was long. The TL;DR version: I’m depressed, stressed, and lonely, so I cling to my boyfriend. But I treat him terribly, and the relationship makes us both miserable. So should I wait to be more emotionally healthy before we break up? Or should I do it as soon as possible?
Most importantly, what are your practical tips for making this break-up last? I've told him everything here, but he still has no desire to break up with me. If I lapse and contact him, we will end up back together. I always delete him from my phone, block him on gchat, cut off all communication, reward myself for not talking to/seeing him, etc etc... but my willpower is weak. So please, if you’ve ever kicked a bad habit like this one, help me out. Throwaway email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(And yes, I will talk to my therapist about my anger issues / abusive treatment! I need to work out those things on my own, but I’m hoping the hive mind can give me practical advice on what to do right now. Thanks!)