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For my own sanity/happiness I have to end a LTR, need help
April 21, 2012 7:04 AM   Subscribe

For my own sanity/happiness I have to end a LTR, like TODAY - I could use some advice.

For some back story, I posted anonymously a few weeks ago.

Today, I forgot to do a really simple thing again. Specifically, I forgot to send a text message to my SO after finishing my routine outdoor exercise on my lunch break, saying 'I'm OK'. Why? Because I (nearly) lost my cell phone last month during said exercise (it fell out of my pocket). After that it made her worried about my well-being or whereabouts in general during my workout (Luckily my cell phone was returned by an upstanding citizen). Because I had other things on my mind, I forgot to send this text, and so she got really upset!

So, I just got off the phone with her, after a ~2 hour phone/text 'discussion' about how inconsistent I am and how much it hurts her. How she can't seem to go one single day without me removing the smile from her face. That I must not want her to be happy for too long, and why do I always do something to ruin it..? These small things I keep ruining, thus ruining our bond - what little bond we have anymore - that we have with one another.

I know I've hurt her, I feel extremely terrible about it and the overly guilty feeling is oppressive. I take responsibility for not living up to some of her ideals, and have tried by best to overcome my problems and be more consistent. But today it just feels like it will not get better, ever. No matter how hard I try, some seemingly insignificant thing will set her off and she'll immediately blame me for doing it on purpose to make her unhappy and push her away, break up, kill herself, etc. I, of course, would never do something seemingly insignificant on purpose to inflict any pain on anyone. I sometimes forget things, like I'm sure a lot of people do. I told her this, that I was just 'human' and she refused to hear me out and thinks I'm just making excuses, and she doesn't want to hear any more apologies. She wants actions and proof. I'm fine with that, and that's the code that I've been trying to live by. Yet at this point, anything and everything seems to set off the fuse between us. And it's feeling like emotional abuse for both of us - she certainly feels I'm being emotionally abusive to her, and in return, because of how she reacts and her insistence that there is something horribly wrong with me in the head, I feel like I'm being gaslighted. I'm sitting here at work, and half my day is shot because I am so emotionally caught up in this that I can't or don't really feel like doing my job (effectively).

I can't take it anymore. We've been together a little over 5 years. I asked her to relocate to a new town when we first moved in together, which I didn't think though and thus made even that difficult. It's been a emotional roller coaster ever since. Currently I am financially supporting her 100% while she's in school, she's not working and does not have any real financial back-up. She doesn't have a peer/support group to lean on. She's estranged from her family too. I am the closest thing she has to a friend right now, and you see how well that is going....

She has talked before this about breaking up and we'd just live together as roommates, or moving out and living alone in some hovel she could afford in a dangerous neighborhood. I've never thought or talked about any of this, ever. I'd like her to get her degree so she can find some peace/success/happiness in her life. The whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing seems to be getting in the way.

I am at the end of my rope and don't know what to do..............I feel like I'm just going to cave-in and let the cycle continue, god help me.......
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (67 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
There is a moment in your very near future when you will not be subject to check-ins and cell phone surveillance. You will not having hanging over you at all times the threat of an exhausting new set of accusations to accept blame for. You will make big and small choices without having to filter them through the anxiousmaking question of how your girlfriend will respond. You will feel free and at peace and you will begin to find it incomprehensible that you let yourself live any other way. If your resolution wavers, reflect on that upcoming moment.

It might also be helpful to review this very wise post on sick systems.
posted by foursentences at 7:17 AM on April 21, 2012 [61 favorites]


In time, you're going to look back on this relationship with absolute horror. (Your previous post horrified me at the time, and I don't even know you!)

Prepare a very short talk for when you come home.

1. "I don't want us to be a couple any more. This is not the relationship I want to have. It is not salvageable."

The point is to be firm and direct. And no: you cannot be "roommates." That's crazy.

2. Because you're going to be unable to not address this, because you are apparently the guiltiest person ever, you'll probably say something like: "I'm concerned about the impact on you of us breaking up. How can I help you get on your feet on your own?"

3. Have prepared some thoughts on what you're willing to do for her regarding that. Will you pay half her rent if she moves out for six months? All her rent for three months? (Although, if she's in school, what's she going to do for income over the summer? She can go look for work, or grants, or what have you.)

4. Do not under any circumstances sign a lease for her, or be her guarantor, or become more financially entangled on contractual levels. Write a check, or guarantee some payments, and call it a day.

There does not need to be drama, flailing, recriminations, tears or shouting. You guys have done all that to death. Treat this as a practical discussion. If things get heated, get quiet. If she freaks out, let her freak out until she's done. You don't need to be part of that any more. It's time to undo some of the damage. Stop participating: it's finally over.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2012 [84 favorites]


Pack a bag and get out of there. Stay with your friends. This is madness.
posted by modernserf at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


You're in a relationship that isn't working for you, and though it's sad, it happens. Don't be cruel about, it, but end the relationship, because it's crueler to stay, feeling the way you do.
posted by xingcat at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2012


With no other information than what you've provided here, and assuming that there isn't another side to this story that would sound very different, it sounds like you're in a relationship with an emotionally abusive and very controlling individual who is seriously taking advantage of you.

If, after 5 years you're seeing a consistent pattern as to how she treats you, you would probably be remiss to believe that she is going to change at this point.

You're not married, you have no legal responsibility to continue to support her, I'm assuming there are no children involved. I suspect that your decision to end the relationship is, in the long run, in both of your best interests
posted by HuronBob at 7:19 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


It might be helpful to keep in mind that this person seems like she's obviously hurting a lot, inside. This has very little to do with you. It may be easier to do the kind thing (break the pattern) if you can remember to experience what she's doing as lashing out to avoid dealing with pain, rather than purely malevolent abuse.

It does seem like the kindest thing you can do is to take RJ Reynolds' advice.

I would bet that she knows, too.
posted by softlord at 7:21 AM on April 21, 2012


It sounds like both of you have somethings that you need to work on.

IMHO, having your SO text you after a run seems like overkill. Freaking out because s/he didn't text seems way over the top.

Yet your "I need to end this NOW" attitude about a 5 year live-in relationship also seems immature. You're adults and have intertwined lives. Unless you're being abused, getting out NOW is silly.

Remember that you're not responsible for her wellbeing beyond being decent. You need to be a grownup here.

Step 1: you know that you want to break up
Step 2: YOU figure out for yourself what you think your options for living are. Can just one of you afford the rent on your current place? Can you break the lease? Could you find another roommate? Who stays at the place? Who moves? Do you both move? -- Figure out all this stuff before you even talk to her.
Step 3: Think about your pets and what your options are with splitting up the pets.
Step 4: Do you have any finances intermingled? Figure out what you're going to do about that. If you have a shared bank account, go and set up your own now.
Step 5: Do you have shared possessions? Think about any of them that you REALLY want to keep and otherwise, maybe offer them all to her?

Once you have the logistics settled in your own head, you need to write a script for how you're going to tell her. (Miko's script is often cited here, but here's a shot...)

"Jessica, I care for you deeply but I do not think that our relationship is making either of us as happy as we could be. We've talked about breaking up before and now I am very serious about it. I think that you can handle the rent payment if you get a roommate, so I am going to move out on May 1/I figured out that we can break the lease and both move out by June 1, but I am going to move out on May 1 and pay for my share of the rent in June while you work on finding a new place/whatever. I am comfortable with whatever you want to do with Fluffy and McMuffins. I love them both, but if you want to keep them, that is okay with me. "

Sit her down and talk about this with her. Then be ready to leave at that moment -- in case she gets really upset. Have a suitcase or something in the car and secure a friend's house to crash at for a few days.

And remember that the longer than you push this off, the harder it is for both of you.
posted by k8t at 7:22 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Forgetting to lock the door once and forgetting to send a text are not examples of emotional abuse. Please get out of this relationship.
posted by jabes at 7:23 AM on April 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


Also, while it is great that you are financially supporting her, she can get student loans and/or find work. Don't worry about that so much.
posted by k8t at 7:23 AM on April 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


You remind me of myself when I was waking up and realizing I was in an abusive relationship with a mentally ill person. Who was taking advantage of me much the same way she's taking advantage of you (I paid tuition, too). You don't spend all your time worried you're fucking up in a healthy relationship. She IS gaslighting you. Your original post gave me chills--put me right back in that headspace. I'm hopeful based on this one that you're going to change things. You're living in her head right now--you have to take care of yourself.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:23 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


It takes energy and courage to break up, especially from a bad relationship, and even more so when you worry that the other person will crash and burn without you.

But is she really better off with you? You with her? You know this relationship is toxic.

Breaking up WILL hurt, but that is why it requires courage. She has been lashing out at you, and this will intensify. AskMe usually suggests a period of no contact to get you through the initial stage (6+ months).

Right now your only goal is to get out of the relationship and take some time to clear your head. It is NOT to remain friends or be on good terms or have her think of you in a positive way. You have no control over, or responsibility for, her reaction or future decisions.
posted by heatherann at 7:24 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Between the last post, and the comment about knowing you are OK after exercise, I am of the mind that your GF will fly into dramatic histrionics. So, get your stuff gathered, and plan your next steps before you tell her. For your own sanity, get out as quickly as possible, let her wail to her friends (she's in school, she has to have one or two, no?).

If you feel compelled to give her some support, give her cash, do not sign anything, get your name off the lease, and off any vehicles you may currently share.

She is a grown up. She may be damaged, but now she is damaging you. Please keep in mind the bit on an airplane, where they tell you to put on your own mask before helping others.
posted by kellyblah at 7:28 AM on April 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


Unless you're being abused, getting out NOW is silly.

Yes but I think it is clear that he is being abused, so I do not think it is silly or immature. I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship and in abusive relationships you have to take the little sliver of hope that there can be a change and that you are a good person, deserving of a happy life, and you have to RUN WITH IT because you never know when you'll be able to get your head above water again.

Go find somewhere else to stay. Don't answer your phone or texts for a few days while you plan, because she is going to do everything in your power to make it impossible for you to think/plan including keeping you from sleeping by fighting with you, threatening suicide, etc.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:29 AM on April 21, 2012 [57 favorites]


Yet your "I need to end this NOW" attitude about a 5 year live-in relationship also seems immature. You're adults and have intertwined lives. Unless you're being abused, getting out NOW is silly.

The OP is being abused and needs to end this NOW.

Read the previous question if you're not certain you agree. This situation is just insane, insane, insane. It will go away when the OP gets out.
posted by foursentences at 7:30 AM on April 21, 2012 [30 favorites]


End it not because you're some sort of chronic source of anxiety for her, but because she's a source of chronic misery to you. Foursentences had it in the first post -- this is awful. You'll feel so much better when you're not living like this anymore you'll be sort of dizzy from the weight lifted from your shoulders.

It is not normal to flip out because you don't get a text after someone works out, or because someone forgets to lock a door. Those things happen. We all have our preferences, and most of the time we all try to accomodate their loved ones, but people forget shit. That's life.

Normal relationships aren't like this. They don't feel like this, and together, competent adults don't behave this way. Find somebody who doesn't flip out when you forget a text.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:30 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


PS. Her guilt-inducing emotional manipulation will spike to an all-time high after you dump her. "You left me with nothing, you're a horrible person, etc." You need to get out fast and burn the bridge behind you so she can't do that, because you have proven you're seriously susceptible to that suggestion. Maybe do some emotional work on finding out why guilt is such an effective way for someone to control you, when things settle down. Right now, focus on getting out and beyond the reach of her manipulations.

Oh, and by the way. She's an adult. She took care of herself before you. She'll find a way after. Even if it's some other poor guy or gal.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:31 AM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I just want to say, good for you for getting out now. Your previous question really bothered me because I felt your GF sounded like she treated you horribly.

Whatever you do, please do not give her a second chance when she promises to change. Make it a clean, total break, with no further contact, no possibility of reconciliation.

(And I'm delighted that no one has urged you to use that "how to have a great breakup" comment that seems to come up every time a breakup is suggested.)
posted by jayder at 7:53 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have made a very courageous and healthy decision today.

Now, be pragmatic financially and see what the worst case scenario might be - would you need to offer her the apartment for a length of time in order to find another place? What would you need to plan in order to leave today and find a space to breathe while you figure the rest of the details out? Do you have family or friends in this town?
posted by infini at 8:06 AM on April 21, 2012


She's emotionally abusing the crap out of you. Run.

If you end it (which you should), it's not your responsibility to financially support her. Nor does she need your support. She can find a way to get student loans and a job. Maybe not immediately, but sometime in the near future, and you should not wait or avoid breaking up with her because you think she needs you.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:06 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


You haven't hurt her. She's created an arbitrary and absurd set of restrictions to make you think you're responsible for the way she's hurting herself.
posted by fearnothing at 8:10 AM on April 21, 2012 [22 favorites]


Just to reiterate what the young rope-rider said: she very well may threaten suicide. Do NOT fall for it; this is her way of manipulating you. Offer to drive her to an emergency room or a therapist if you must, but do NOT let her use this as an excuse to keep on manipulating you or staying together.
posted by Melismata at 8:10 AM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, get out now. You don't need to walk on eggshells your entire life. This is crazy-making behavior.

She has talked before this about breaking up and we'd just live together as roommates

BEEP BEEP BOOP BOOP YET ANOTHER RED FLAG.

She made the choice be supported by you. You don't have to let yourself be guilted into taking care of her forever, just because she has no job, loans, or savings. She's not your child. Maybe give her a buffer, but that's that.

This will be hard, but listen to "Everybody Plays the Fool" by The Main Ingredient over and over until you don't feel so bad about this relationship.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:10 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I take responsibility for not living up to some of her ideals

This is the gaslight talking. If she is as domineering and controlling as you describe in these two questions, her "ideals" are off-the-scale irrational crazypants.

Forget about who's fault it is, who's done more damage to who, who is hurting who more than the other -- just don't bother to try to sort it out. You aren't thinking rationally about that stuff, she definitely isn't, and it doesn't fucking matter. You two are not happy together. At all. That is all the reason you need to break up.

Don't try to justify it, don't try to explain it, don't engage when she wants to argue about it. You are done with that. Just end it.

She has talked before this about breaking up and we'd just live together as roommates

Oh god do not do not do not do NOT do this. It will not work. It will be worse than your current situation. When you break up, one or both of you needs to leave that apartment.

or moving out and living alone in some hovel she could afford in a dangerous neighborhood.

Wow, emotionally manipulative, much? You'll get more of this crap when you dump her. Dump her anyway. She's a grown-up person who is presumably capable of supporting herself. If she winds up in a hovel in a dangerous neighborhood, that's her choice and her problem, not yours. If she hasn't made any friends or built any kind of support network in the past 5 years, that's her problem, not yours.

(Consider that there may be a reason she is estranged from literally everyone but you. Namely that everyone but you is unwilling to put up with the manipulative nonsense you are living with.)

Logistics:

It will be easier for you to leave than to kick her out of the apartment, because you'll be in control of the departure date; if you ask her to leave instead she'll probably refuse, or won't be able to find a new place, and it will drag on and on.

I'd plan on moving out at the beginning of the month, after the month's rent is paid, so she'll have time to work out an arrangement with the landlord or to find a new place. Get your name off the lease. Stock the pantry. And get out. Pack up anything you truly value and have it out of there before you break up with her. Just in case. Also, you might consider lining up a new apartment for yourself before you break up with her, so you won't be tempted to backslide.
posted by ook at 8:14 AM on April 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


If she threatens suicide, don't offer to drive her anywhere, talk to her, or otherwise interact with her. Call 911 and tell them you're worried that she will commit suicide. Seriously. Even driving her somewhere will reinforce that behavior and it's harmful to both of you. It's the only way I could get my ex to stop threatening to kill himself without feeling like he was going completely without help.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:17 AM on April 21, 2012 [38 favorites]


moving out and living alone in some hovel she could afford in a dangerous neighborhood

She can find other roommates to live with if she can't afford to live alone. And really, that will be better for her than living alone anyway, since she will have to learn to deal with people who won't put up with bullshit.

She can try to get work with a temp agency, or work at some chain like McDonald's. She might have to apply for welfare or student loans. She might have to suck it up and un-estrange herself from her family. Her options aren't limited to "being dependent on you" and "living on the street".

Think of this as ultimately being the best thing for her - instead of staying dependent on you in a mutually abusive relationship, she will have to learn to be self-supporting. It can't really hurt to say something encouraging about this - tell her she's intelligent and hard-working and resourceful (or whatever) and that's something you've admired about her. You can't be there for her anymore, there's no saving this relationship, but she'll be ok, you know it.
posted by lizbunny at 8:19 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


What she does after you've broken up is not your responsibility. I do not think living with her as a "roommate" would work and would probably be just as destructive as being in an actual relationship with her.

I do think you should get out of this as soon as possible, even if it means leaving for a couple of days to clear your head and then coming back to tell her what's up.

You could also call a crisis hotline to get advice for how to handle her anticipated reactions.
posted by fromageball at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am the way you are, too. Human. I don't know how your SO thinks that she is some kind of super-human who never makes mistakes but relies emotionally on those around her to not fall apart every moment of her life. That is not healthy. She needs to get help, and I'm not sure you can do anything more than tell her that her behavior and (unreasonable) expectations is a big part of why you're leaving, and encourage her to get help.

You are right to find this kind of behavior frustrating. It's ok that you are leaving. As others have said, you will look back on this and be relieved to be done with it.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2012


Regarding threatening suicide, someone here once posted a comment about a response to that. Something like

(former) significant other: "If you leave me, I will kill myself!"
person initiating the breakup: "And that will be your choice."

At first blush it sounds harsh but it reaffirms something true and important.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:44 AM on April 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


Currently I am financially supporting her 100% while she's in school, she's not working and does not have any real financial back-up. She doesn't have a peer/support group to lean on. She's estranged from her family too. I am the closest thing she has to a friend right now, and you see how well that is going....

This is the exact reason that I stayed with one particular guy for a year past the date I should have broken up with him. He had no other means of support, I thought. But after five years -- just like in your case -- I couldn't take it any more. I broke up with him, even though I knew I was supporting him 100%.

...And within two months, he got himself into a graduate arts program, got a teaching position, and reaching out to other people that weren't me.

He is now married to someone much more suited to him (I am not in contact with him -- it would be a bad idea -- but I've stumbled across info time to time).

My breaking up with that man was the impetus he needed to take charge of his own life at long last. He did NOT starve to death. And that means that I put myself through a year's worth of extra pain for NOTHING.

Save yourself. You are not responsible for her well-being if it comes at an expense to you -- and it is coming at an expense to you. She will not starve. She will find a way. Your breaking things off may be the push she needs.

But SAVE YOURSELF.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on April 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


Yes, you do have to end it, Anon.

It's hard when you're with someone who is abusive. Up becomes down, left becomes right, and it changes you. You can see that pretty well from where you're sitting, I'm sure.

When I finally had had ENOUGH, and that one last horrible thing had been done, it was like a silent atomic bomb went off in my head, that was it. This may be your one last thing, Anon. For you, I hope so. It sounds like you're either ready or almost ready to pull the plug.

(You could do like I do, and from now on give "The Text" special status, as the thing that finally broke the spell. I have come to love and respect that one final, horrible thing. It was a brick of reality upside the head, and it has a special status in my mind. Horrible, but special.)

When I got away, I felt like a crumpled up piece of paper, and I was so afraid that if I opened up the paper, there would be nothing written on it, it would be blank. Each day, I got a little bit more of myself back, and I found out that there was something written on the paper. Whatever the hell I wanted to write on the paper was there, and no one to make me feel bad about it (or hurt me for it). There is sweet oxygen over on the other side of this, Anon.

So, I say this all the time, and I'll say it again, detach emotionally. DETACH, DETACH, DETACH. I advise some version of, "It's been real, it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun." (which will be a heck of a lot easier if you DETACH EMOTIONALLY) Big-ass virtual hugs of support to you in doing what you gotta do. She's a big girl, she'll figure something out. You do you.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 8:46 AM on April 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Do you have friend who can come with you for the breakup? This might be one of those times where its better not to be alone, and sometimes having someone to be accountable to can provide good motivation.

I think you're making a really healthy choice by getting out of this relationship. You don't need to live like this.

Good luck!
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:48 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with pretty much everyone else here, especially on the following points:
  • Yes, she sounds incredibly unbalanced. IANATherapist, so I could be totally wrong, but this kind of behavior doesn't give me much confidence that she will let you go easily. Personally, I'd want to prepare (and cut off) any avenues of easy retribution.

  • Yes, pack your most precious & expensive stuff and get it out before you have this talk. If you were my friend in this situation, I would be more than happy to stash boxes and bags for you. (Trash bas are AWESOME for quick packing of soft goods)

  • DO NOT DO THE ROOMMATE THING. You need to get her completely out of your life. When you have the breakup conversation, at the end, tell her given the length of the relationship, you need at least six months of absolute no contact from her. And then do not take any calls, texts, or emails from her.



  • Remember, she is an adult. It's up to her to figure out how she's going to live, but she can do that. Her school will have resources for her.

    Good luck, and good on you.
    posted by smirkette at 8:53 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    It looks like someone in your previous post suggested this, but I immediately thought "Borderline Personality Disorder." It's within reason to put mutual effort into a relationship you both want, but when the effort you're putting in "just isn't enough," no matter what you do... (and it sounds like you're putting in a reasonable amount of effort, thought, and love) then that's a situation beyond your control. It's not you.

    I've heard good things about these books: Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder and I Hate You -- Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality. Try to understand that your gf's happiness is actually not a direct result of your actions. You are not in charge of her emotions.

    Extricate yourself from the situation and cut off the toxic communication; you cannot help her or yourself by staying. Read the books. You may miss being in a relationship at first, but in many (important) ways, you will feel relieved. Do it now.
    posted by ariela at 9:09 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I asked her to relocate to a new town when we first moved in together, which I didn't think though and thus made even that difficult.

    She could've said "no."
    posted by The corpse in the library at 9:12 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    OP you have been on my mind since your last question. I have really been worried for you because of how horrible this situation is. I'm glad that you realize that this relationship is not sustainable and is absolutely detrimental to your health.

    I too want to warn you that this break up will send her into flaming histrionics where she will try to convince you that you are the scum of the earth. DO NOT BELIEVE HER. DO NOT FOR A MOMENT BEIEVE THAT YOU ARE A BAD PERSON.

    Clearly her capacity for inflicting emotional violence is huge. I would advise you to contact your closest friend when the break-up is eminent and set up a plan for you to check in with that friend regularly.

    There is a lot of excellent advice up thread. I wish you the very best.
    posted by OsoMeaty at 9:18 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Here's a list of resources for abused men. It might be worth calling someplace local while on a break at work, just to have someone to talk to who has helped other people in similar situations.
    posted by jann at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Also, if you need more support perhaps you could set up an anonymous e-mail where supportive mefites could send you encouraging messages? You could have a mod post that e-mail here. I think you're going to need 24/7 support and your story has resonated with me, and I'm sure there are lots of people on here (including myself) that would like to support you through this really difficult time in your life.
    posted by OsoMeaty at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Oh, thank heaven. You have been on my mind so often since your last question. The sooner you get away from this toxic person, the better.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 9:30 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


    There are a few practical aspects to consider - if you're living together then you probably have a joint lease? You need to be the one to move, you cannot make her move even if she has zero funds, all she has to do is refuse to move and then you're stuck. You could try to get yourself taken off the lease but the landlord is unlikely to agree to do that if your SO has no money and can't afford the rent.

    If you can afford to pay double rent for a couple of months, start looking for a new place immediately, when you have your lease signed on the new place, start moving in - preferably get some friends to help you pack so you can have it done while she's out (assuming she goes out). Once you're securely in your new place, give notice on the old place and break up with her by phone or text. Don't do it in person - she will try to change your mind, she'll probably try to get you to change your mind - by begging, making promises to change, threatening suicide, making you feel like shit or a combination of all those things - not only because she's a drama queen emotional abuser but from a practical standpoint, if you support her financially, she needs you. If you call or text, you can say your piece then hang up and turn your phone off. Make sure only the friends you trust know where your new place is.

    If you can't afford to pay double rent or really need to get out TODAY then find a friend who will let you stay with them for a few weeks and have them (and a few others!) with you when you break up, you need them to protect you from yourself and stop you from giving in to her/believing the terrible things she's going to say about you.
    posted by missmagenta at 9:43 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I concur with everyone who tells you to break up now. I suggest you give the whole process ten minutes tops (time it, even, and then get out). I say this because you seem very thorough about explaining things -- you spent two hours talking to her about your "inconsistency" and how much you "hurt her" after a trivial event, and you are very careful to explain everything to us in your posts. Just say what you have to say, keep it practical, and do not worry about whether she agrees or is hurt or seemingly doesn't get it. I would not invite any further discussion or negotiation nor would I ask her what help she needed from me. Figure out what you plan to do and present it as a done deal, otherwise you WILL get sucked back in. Please post an update after you're done! You are brave and will get through this.
    posted by Wordwoman at 9:43 AM on April 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


    I've been in a relationship with a person like this. I got out, right around when the emotional abuse turned into physical abuse. He took a swing at me one night because he thought I had been talking about him with a friend of mine (he was of the opinion that it was never appropriate for me to talk about any aspect of our relationship with anyone else). That was my Thing, like Grinxtdr mentions. Please don't let this moment slip away, don't lose your courage, don't cave in and stick around for more of this treatment. It will only ever get worse. The circumstances that allowed me to get out were not circumstances you have here (I had an opportunity to move to a different continent, and took it), so I don't have solid logistical advice. But I just wanted to say....your life is going to be so many hundreds of thousands of times better once you are away from this. So so so so much better. I don't even have the words to explain how much happier your life can be, but I'm just aching to convey to you that you are going to feel like a completely new human being once this person is out of your life, and it is going to be glorious. I'm telling you the same thing as foursentences: eye on the prize. Just keep telling yourself. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize.
    posted by ootandaboot at 9:47 AM on April 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Wow, I just read your previous post. For perspective, I and my husband are very clingy. When we were in a long distance relationship, we would check in constantly that we had got home or whatever. But if it got missed (even though it was long distance and really no other way to know) there was NEVER this freak out you have got going. Your situation seems crazy by any standard.

    And you are not responsible for her happiness. The closeness is gone (ruined by the crazy patterns, I suppose). Just walk away, with the words you wrote in your post: "I can't take it anymore." By the way, you say a lot about what she needs and how she will get that after you split up. But more to the point - what do you need? What are the next steps? Pack up what you want to take, tell her you're leaving and why, very briefly, and go. Or if you have a shared lease or ownership, you will have to figure out the mechanics of that and other things before making a move. Perhaps stay in a hotel a couple days to figure out these plans. But do focus on your next practical steps and how to execute them to get what you want.
    posted by Listener at 9:58 AM on April 21, 2012


    Get out. If necessary, use airbnb.com to rent a bed or a couch somewhere else for a few days. It is not going to be difficult to get out. What is difficult is making the decision to get out, and I wish you the strength to do that. Rehearse your breakup talk (see k8t above), put your valuables in a safe place, deliver your talk, get out.
    posted by Mr. Justice at 10:06 AM on April 21, 2012


    Prepare yourself for a TON of manipulation when you tell her this. She is going to try to manipulate you even more once this conversation happens. Find a script and stick to it. Find a friend to support you with it.

    She is abusive.
    posted by Vaike at 10:07 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Put a crisis line on speed dial and make a sheet of paper for her with the crisis line number and contact info for her own friends/family. Call 911 any/every time she threatens suicide. You say she doesn't have any support net/is estranged from her family, etc but are you really sure about that or is it part of your co-dependency to assume she needs you? If her family is otherwise healthy, they will care to know that their daughter is having a mental health crisis.

    When I was facing a similar situation, I told my former SO to go to her dad's house and take our cat. Some people think I was unduly cruel to "kick her out" but she needed to not be alone and stewing with herself. It is not your responsibility to take care of her, per se, but it is one last act of kindness to hand her off to other support. The key part is *hand-off*. I hope you find the courage you need.
    posted by Skwirl at 10:08 AM on April 21, 2012


    You're being emotionally abused and manipulated. This is the one situation in which it's ok to break up with someone by essentially going dark - wait until she's out of the house, move most of your stuff into storage, find a friend to stay with, and then call her, tell her you're breaking up, keep the conversation short, and then stop taking her calls. This is an extreme measure, to be sure, but you're in a much more extreme situation than you realize. Good luck!
    posted by Ragged Richard at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


    The stuff you write is C L A S S I C emotional abuse. No question. You're not responsible for her feelings like that. Yes, END THE DRAMA TODAY!

    Here's how I'd do it: pack enough stuff for two weeks. Have the conversation and leave. Turn off your phone.

    Pay the May rent and utilities, and leave maybe $200 for groceries and transportation (adjust as needed). Tell her that starting June 1, she's on her own, and she needs to decide by May 15th if she wants to keep the apartment or if she wants to move out. Tell her you can give her another $150 when you get your May 15th paycheck (but don't give it to her until she's told you her decision). Tell the landlord what's going on and that you're willing to keep the apartment in June but want her to have first dibs, but that you need to be off the lease if she stays. Maybe offer some amount for her moving expenses if she moves out as planned. Find an offer that really feels fair and practical to you, because you're going to then turn off your phone and not listen to complaints.
    posted by salvia at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


    OP, please listen to the good advice you're getting here. And listen to yourself. You *know* something is very, very wrong here. In time you will learn that you are not the horrible person she says you are. You need outside perspective. Talk to family and friends. Even friends you may think you've lost due to passage of time or codependency-imposed isolation. If you need to chat with someone who's been there, MeMail me. Word of warning. I know a guy who was basically in your situation exactly. The "roommate"thing turned into him continuing to support her for another decade.
    posted by Lieber Frau at 11:44 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I'm another person who read your previous question and thought, Please please get out now. I'm very glad you're finally ready to leave her. You're not crazy, and you will never make her happy no matter how you contort yourself or diminish yourself to make her happy. She may be borderline, she may have something else going on, but the way she treats you is horrible and absolutely not OK. Good relationships don't work like this. I promise you, they really don't.

    RJ Reynolds makes a lot of sense, but I disagree with #2. Do not let her set these terms. Figure out beforehand what you are willing to do to help her get on her feet (a month's rent? three months?) and then give her the cash. (Not even a check.) And you don't owe her anything, but I recognize it's very hard for you to hear this today, when you probably feel like the worst person in the world. You're not. You've spent five years trying to be a good partner to someone who has abused you emotionally. Please don't keep hurting yourself.

    If you can update, please do. I'm sure a lot of people will be watching this thread.
    posted by Angharad at 12:19 PM on April 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Oh, Anon, I've been there! Different precise details, of course, but I recognize the prison you're writing from, because I did time there. The best thing I ever did in my life was to walk out of there, which is something I could do once I realized the cell had been unlocked the whole time.

    I agree wholeheartedly with what everyone here has said, but the thread lacks a cheesy (but devastatingly accurate) cute baby animal metaphor to serve as an encouraging symbol and mental totem, so, here you go! This feels exactly right based on my own experience.

    Good luck and God speed!
    posted by taz at 12:27 PM on April 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Yeah, update us if you can. As you can see, people are willing to offer everything from practical logistics to elephant parables to break up songs. So just let us know what you need if you're stuck on something. ("I can't figure out ___." "I can't stop thinking ___.")
    posted by salvia at 12:35 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Yes, please let us know how you're doing.

    Make a bulletproof plan with plenty of contigencies, deliver the news without drama, and GET OUT. Be impossible to reach. Enjoy your freedom.

    Remember it has NEVER been your job to make her happy. That is - and always was - her own job. It is not your job to make this OK for her. Leave some cash and other practical help, but under no circumstances promise continuing personal contact or support.

    It sounds like she will say terrible things about you as a person. You will feel a bit frantic and want to do something to rescue her opinion of you. You won't want to be seen as a bad person. You will be tempted to acquiesce to her demands in the moment, but you won't. You will remember that you don't deserve this kind of abuse and you will bear the unpleasant feeling of having let her down long enough to get out, when you will clearly see the abuse for what it was.
    posted by Cygnet at 1:02 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


    other people have covered your next steps and actual advice, but i wanted to say this to put your situation in context: i read the human relations threads constantly and for over four years, and your girlfriend's demands are some of the crazy, wackier ones that i've read about.
    posted by anthropomorphic at 1:17 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


    And please keep in mind that whatever she yells at you after you tell her—whatever stories she tries to spin with you in the role of the horrible person—They. Are. False.—she's just trying to rope her doormat/meal-ticket back in.
    If she succeeds, the crazy wins and you lose.

    This is abuse. She is abusing you.

    Someone above mentioned telling her and being out of the apartment in less than ten minutes. Please take that advice. The longer she keeps you off balance with accusations or "c'mon, let's just sleep on it and talk about it tomorrow..." the harder it will be to do the healthy thing. Please, do not stay the night in the apartment after telling her.

    Ideally, you could take the day off while she's at class, have a friend help you move all of your stuff out, and then just tell her when she gets home from school. A few minutes, then you walk out the door with no need to come back for clothes/furniture/whatever. (Having your stuff gone is a good way to keep from backing out.) But if that's not possible, don't worry about it—it's only stuff, you're well-being is the most important thing here; a television is not worth a week more of soul-crushing abuse.

    You are a good, caring person and you have a virtual inbox full of hugs from a hell of a lot of MeFites who are here on the sidelines cheering for you.

    [I went through something similar and finally reached a point where I just had to say "I'm sorry, I just can't be in this relationship anymore." She was also in school, so I offered to pay her rent on our old place for up to three months (I was moving out).
    Once I had set down the last box of stuff in my new place, I felt a bit guilty/protective. I stared at the phone that I had just hooked into the wall and thought "I should call her to see how she's doing/comfort her...". Thankfully, my brain was working enough to say "No, that is exactly not what you should do." For some reason, I had to see her a few months later and she yelled at me, saying that I had seen her on that certain day because I knew she was planning on going to some school party, so I knew that it would ruin that for her. O_o
    Honestly, I would get a new number for your phone—it's not your responsibility and you don't want to have to wade through a voice-mail-box full of more craziness and accusations to get to healthy messages from people who care about you.
    And by the way, I think it was maybe a week or two later. I was in the hall of my new place and it hit me "Oh my god—I'm free! I don't have to deal with, or make excuses for that craziness ever again!"
    You know how when you give someone a piggyback ride, and then they finally get off and you feel like you're about to float away? Getting free of the crazy feels like that.
    You deserve to feel like that.]

    posted by blueberry at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Oh, and please check back in!
    posted by blueberry at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


    There does not need to be drama, flailing, recriminations, tears or shouting. You guys have done all that to death. Treat this as a practical discussion. If things get heated, get quiet. If she freaks out, let her freak out until she's done. You don't need to be part of that any more. It's time to undo some of the damage. Stop participating: it's finally over.

    If I could favorite this comment of RJ Reynolds's a million times, I would. This is the heart of the matter, and the place where you will start to reclaim your self, your center, your life, and your autonomy. You can't control her; you don't even have to tr. You can let her have her feelings and her behavior, because now, you get to have your own. You can make the choice to move on, for the sake of your own self and your own needs -- calmly, quietly, and with self-respect. You can do it! We're pulling for you.
    posted by scody at 2:42 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


    And please keep in mind that whatever she yells at you after you tell her—whatever stories she tries to spin with you in the role of the horrible person—They. Are. False.

    I would add, so are any stories she tells you about changing her ways, treating you with respect from now on, or going into therapy. Say it and get out!
    posted by Wordwoman at 3:55 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Just wanted to chime-in on the empress's post:

    This is the exact reason that I stayed with one particular guy for a year past the date I should have broken up with him. He had no other means of support, I thought. But after five years -- just like in your case -- I couldn't take it any more. I broke up with him, even though I knew I was supporting him 100%.

    ...And within two months, he got himself into a graduate arts program, got a teaching position, and reaching out to other people that weren't me.

    He is now married to someone much more suited to him (I am not in contact with him -- it would be a bad idea -- but I've stumbled across info time to time).

    My breaking up with that man was the impetus he needed to take charge of his own life at long last. He did NOT starve to death. And that means that I put myself through a year's worth of extra pain for NOTHING.


    I could have written this EXACTLY - it's crazy how much these details mimic my own life. My point being, I think relationship break-ups are inspiring people to take control of their lives all over the world, every day.

    It'll be hard for a while, but time will heal you.
    posted by corn_bread at 4:33 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Another idea how to get out that I think has advantages - "trial separation." Then never come back. Gives you a chance of a less dramatic escape period. Not the most forthright, but then direct communication around conflicts doesn't work well between you anyway.
    posted by Listener at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2012


    Oh, I disagree with that. I'm guessing this is going to be a messy breakup anyway, with lots of phone calls and discussions of feelings and angry texts. The cleaner the break, the better.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 9:55 AM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Yeah, the notion of a trial separation in this case would almost certainly be very bad. The OP's (soon-to-be-ex-)girlfriend will simply use the lack of clear-cut boundaries implicit in a "trial separation" as further means to try to keep the two of them enmeshed as a means of postponing the inevitable breakup. I think a trial separation can work under certain circumstances, but it requires two (relatively) healthy individuals with (relatively) healthy senses of self and boundaries. Those circumstances do not exist here.
    posted by scody at 10:58 AM on April 22, 2012


    Do not do a trial separation.
    You need to end this.

    Do not live together as roommates.
    You need to end this.

    Life is going to suck for a while.
    That's ok! It's a short term pain for a very major long term gain.

    Don't do what's easy.
    Do what's best.
    End it now.

    If you do, by May 1st, you'll be starting to get a new sense of normal. By June 1st, things will be getting better. By the end of summer, you'll be looking back on the relationship and thinking "I can't believe I didn't end it sooner." A better tomorrow begins now. It's time to end this.

    Or, you can try to gently end it, by a trial separation that will leave the two of you in constant contact still, and maybe you can be roommates to get through the end of the relationship together... except that, really, it'll just be the same old same old with new problems added on top and the situation will have become worse than it is now.

    I once had a live in relationship end with us being roommates for a few months until our lease ended, but we didn't have any of the problems your relationship has. We were just two people who realized we weren't right for each other. Even then, despite how amazingly healthy the end of our relationship was, it added months between the breakup and the beginning of moving on. Your relationship isn't healthy at all, so you don't have the luxury of putting off the inevitable. You need to begin moving on NOW.

    Best of luck.
    posted by 2oh1 at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Yes, do not do a trial separation. Only use that phrase as a white lie if it helps as an escape strategy. But be firm in your mind about what you are doing - getting out.
    posted by Listener at 3:01 PM on April 22, 2012


    Oh, given your previous post, I am glad you are getting out. Really glad.

    You've gotten very good advice. I'd just add do move, tell her the honest truth as kindly and briefly as possible and then change your habits as much as possible. Make new friends, participate in new activities, and focus on you for a while. Who are you, what do you like; what new music appeals, do you like to eat fresh mango standing over the sink. THAT is what will keep you from going back: The new you.
    posted by Zen_warrior at 6:32 PM on April 22, 2012


    Yeah, you sound a LOT like one friend I have, even down to the length of time spent in the relationship. :( I've tried to talk to my friend about it, but he's just in total denial, and probably will be for some time if not possibly forever. He's absolutely terrified of being single, which leaves him doing all sorts of backflips trying (and failing) to meet the impossible expectations of his girlfriend. It's absolutely heartbreaking to watch, but he won't listen to anyone about it.

    I think it's really great that you've been brave enough to try to come to terms with this, since I know it's not easy. What would be easy would be to let things continue as they are, but you are doing the right thing by trying to put an end to the craziness. Believe me when I say that this type of girl will do ANYthing to avoid getting a real job (and the responsibility that comes along with it). You said you're trying to support her until she gets her bachelor's, but before you know it, that bachelor's will have turned into a second bachelor's, and then possibly grad school...do you really want to be on the hook for providing for a professional student the rest of your life? Probably not. (If you were to stay, she'd probably expect you to make her student loan payments for her, too.)

    Don't be my friend. There are women out there who will treat you properly, actually act their age, and not put you through this crap. I agree with all the people above who say you will feel SO much better once you aren't having to worry constantly about setting off an explosive emotional reaction all the time anymore.

    Best of luck to you! And please, do check back in again with some sort of followup. As a final note--if you have local friends, do be sure to reach out to them during this time. I'd be willing to bet that quite a few of them feel about you the same way that I feel about my friend--but trying to tell someone that they should break up with their SO for their own good is tantamount to excommunication in most cases. They'll probably be happy to see you finally getting out of an abusive relationship, and if they are good friends, they will be more than willing to finally get to help you in whatever capacity they can.
    posted by Estraven at 11:52 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


    She's in school. How soon is her semester over? If you want to be as kind as possible don't ask her to leave until her semester is over. Once she takes her last final and hands in her last paper, announce that you no longer want to live with her or support her. She can apply for financial aid. She can get a job. She can reconnect with her family. And she can maybe start making some friends. It shouldn't be your problem. Change the locks and be prepared for crazy. Good luck.
    posted by mareli at 1:33 PM on April 23, 2012


    I STRONGLY disagree with mareli. If you want to be nice, offer to help pay for rent til the semester's over, but get out now. The rest of it isn't your problem (and she'll have more distraction and resources available to her while school's in session, i.e., counseling.)
    posted by small_ruminant at 1:57 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


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