How to break up with needy girlfriend?
November 26, 2012 2:40 AM   Subscribe

Hi all, I have been together with my girlfriend for almost 3 years. It has probably been the loneliest three years of my life.

The girl I`m with is 25. She is really pretty, well liked and smart. But she`s got some issues. She is very insecure. Shes jealous all the time. On my family, on my friends (she`s got a theory that my best friend is gay and in love with me. Saying it jokingly all the time). She gets mad if I use my iphone for stuff.
I have been wanting out for 1-1,5 years. But its always some fucking drama needing to be sorted out. Crisis in her family. Her changing jobs etc. Its been exhausting. So I always end up in a fight or flight kind of mood. It`s always drama, so I end up smoothing things over today, thinking “tomorrow I will leave”.
I have tried to have the talk a couple of times. But long before I come to the “I wanna split part” she looses it completely. She cries for the dumbest thing. Usually she cries violently and locks herself in the bathroom. And I always feel like the cruelest man in the world and walk around with a racing pulse.
I wanted to make homemade salsa once. We were in the shop and I bought Cilantro. She then got really mad because she doesn`t like the taste or smell of it. (she doesn`t eat salsa either). But she meant that me buying Cilantro was a sign of me not respecting her. She cried for three hours.
I have tried being a kind and loving boyfriend. I support her. I helped her looking for jobs. I motivate her as much as I can. But its an ungrateful job. I just get yelled at all the time. Or she manipulates me into having the worst guilty conscience ever. And I am tired of never seeing my friends or family.

Most of my friends don`t understand my problem. They think she is this great girl, and that I`m the Grinch. One of my best mates bought a sailboat. And at parties she`s always telling him how much she would love to go sailing. So he invites us. And since its not with a weeks notice (she likes to plan things!), she forces me to make up a reason why we can`t go. So he believes its me who is the dull one.

I have seen her parents way more than mine the last year. And she`s mad about us not seeing my parents more, but it`s hard having her along. She`s ALWAYS by my side. I cant read a newspaper, or talk to my father without her being stuck at my side all the time.
And she`s always correcting me in front of my friends. We were out with some friends a while ago and she startet to loudly tell me how to use a knife and fork. And she`s often talking to me in a derogary tone. Telling my mom that I`m messy, or telling my friends how clumsy I am.

And she`s always checking up on me. “When are you coming home”. Or if she`s out with her friends one evening I will get 3 texts asking what I`m doing, where I am etc.

I am a great guy. I have a good job that pays good. I have som great friends. I love playing golf and skiing (two things I don`t get to do at the moment). I look good. And I`m not clumsy, messy, loud, etc. But with her I always feel like I`m not good enough. Like I`m a bad person. And that shes trying to fix me. Make me the guy she wants to be with.

So, I want out. I`ve had it with this crap life. But it`s going to be hell to break up. She`s acting like this is the best relationship in the world. Her friends are always commenting to us that they want our relationship. And she have made me completely responsible for her life and happiness.

How do I get out of this? I want to rip of the bandaid. But I feel so completely stuck. How to I break her heart without feeling like the worst human in the world? How shocked can she possibly get?
posted by silvershadow to Human Relations (69 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man. I'm sure other people will chime in with logistics, but for now, please remember that YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HER FEELINGS. She's an adult, and she chooses how to react to her situations. No matter how upset she gets, its NOT your fault. I know that even just posting this was brave of you, and that's the courage you can rely on to get through this.
posted by tinymegalo at 2:53 AM on November 26, 2012 [15 favorites]

How to I break her heart without feeling like the worst human in the world?

From what you've written here, it sounds like you've spent the past year and a half regularly feeling like the worst human in the world. It might escalate briefly, but once you're broken up, your life will be your own again. You are not responsible for her reactions, but you are responsible for your actions - so do what you know will make you happy. Get out of this relationship and never look back.

If you need extra impetuous - it will be better for her too in the end. You're not going anywhere together as a couple. You do not want to marry her, you do not want to have children with her. If she wants either of those things, she'll need to not be with you to get them. And you know it's true - even if she's not willing to accept it, your relationship is terrible, and she is as stuck in it as you are right now. Be the one to free you both up to continue with your lives without this vortex of drama.
posted by harujion at 2:54 AM on November 26, 2012 [10 favorites]

It is going to suck and I predict that she will freeeeeak out on you, but guess what? Once you've done it, it's done. You are NOT the worst human in the world for wanting out of this relationship - she sounds exhausting - and the other awesome thing is that the only reason you really need to be "allowed" to break up with someone is that you no longer want to be in a relationship with them - but you have plenty of reasons. Crying for three hours over cilantro? That is really irrational. At best, it seems like this is an unhealthy dynamic for both of you, at worst it seems like she needs professional help. But it's not your job to fix her or to stay with her just because she is having family drama. The longer you let this go, the worse it will be, so just go over there and rip off that bandaid. A little bit of agonizing drama may just be the price you have to pay to get out of a situation that is, overall, making you far more miserable than the actual breakup will be.

If she locks herself in the bathroom crying, that is kind of her problem. Ask her to come out and talk to you - she is locking herself in there because she doesn't want to have this conversation - and if she doesn't, you are allowed to break up with her through the door. Her life and happiness are her own lookout. I know that sounds harsh, but that is ALL of our own lookouts. It's not a reason to be needlessly cruel, but staying with someone because she has made you her whole world - despite being mean to you, which isn't a good game plan when you're decided to make someone your whole life - never works out for either party. And if she decides she wants to be the person who gets broken up with through a door because she won't talk to you like a grown up, that is seriously not your fault.

Good luck. You can do this. It will suck...but only temporarily.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:57 AM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

Just gird your loins and do it. Be prepared for crying and dramatics, but don't back down. If it makes you feel better, it doesn't really sound like she loves you to me. At least, not in any sense that I understand the word.
posted by amodelcitizen at 3:05 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

This suggestion may get me some flak from other responders, but I think that there is a point where if you haven't been allowed to communicate your feelings, the person who is shutting you out loses the right to be told. What I mean is - you have been miserable, and she's not letting you have the talk with her that you so desperately want to have. You want to leave, so leave - you don't have to tell her, or get her permission. Find another place to live, and move. If you have to move while she's out at work so that she doesn't throw a fit and mess up your future life the way she's been messing up the present, then so be it. If you want to be kind, you can write her a decent break-up letter that gently explains why you had to go, but send it to her after you are gone. What she is doing is emotionally manipulating you, and that only works if you let it.

also, what everyone else things of her and you is not your problem, they aren't in your shoes.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [39 favorites]

You can do this. It will be a hard conversation for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then it will be over and you'll have a lifetime of freedom. You can do something tricky for ten minutes, right? It's no time at all. Two commercial breaks worth and you're free. She may cry, she may get upset, thats ok, you only have a few minutes of it. After all, prolonging or arguing it helps no one. Do it with kindness, talk quietly but firmly without assigning blame and let her know that your mind is made up, then leave. Done. You can do this.
posted by Jubey at 3:20 AM on November 26, 2012

But it`s going to be hell to break up.

Yup. But then you'll feel better, like you haven't felt in a long time. Even she might feel better after a while, once she's broken the habit of throwing herself into emotional chasms as a way to avoid her own problems.

There's no magic to this. You do it by doing it. You don't need to tell her that it's all her fault, convict her of crimes against humanity, get her to repent, tell you that it's okay. You make a logistical plan, and you execute it. So long as your leaving is contingent on her playing a particular role, you'll be stuck in this cycle where she keeps you around by behaving badly. Just pack and go.
posted by jon1270 at 3:23 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

She's being ridiculous and cruel, and you just have to do it. Say you want to talk, tell her you're not happy and you can't continue the relationship. Make it final. You don't have to say bad things about her, but just make it clear that you need to move on. Even saying "things aren't working out" gives her room to push and negotiate so just skip it. Once you get out you'll start to feel exponentially better. If you start feeling guilty, just imagine your entire life spent with this type of behavior, and imagine what advice you'd give if your best friend described this situation to you.

If you don't get out it will ruin your life. Think about how hard it is for you to meet her every demand, and how easy it is for her to pitch a fit every time she doesn't get her way. You're the one who's hurting here, you're not a grinch, you're not a bastard. If your friends and family ask you "what the fuck," tell them the truth or tell them something neutral, it doesn't matter, just stand your ground and don't feel bad for protecting yourself. The cilantro thing would have turned my heart to stone like immediately.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also once you get out you'll be able to golf and ski and spend time with your family again, and it will be an awesome feeling. You might feel guilty about breaking up, but you won't feel guilty about skiing or seeing your family.

You sound like you have great self-esteem, don't let a relationship like this grind it down or make you unhappy into the foreseeable future.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:28 AM on November 26, 2012

One piece of advice. Do NOT give details like you gave us. She will try to counteract and argue every single one of them and wear you down like she's done in the past.

the one good solid thing you have is PLENTY of experience of what you do NOT want to happen. Learn from that.

Learn a script and stick to it.

I'm not happy in this relationship and I haven't been happy for a very long time.
I'm sorry it's come to this but I really have to look after me for a while.
I'm not going to discuss this as past experience suggests this is not going to end well so I'm just going to say it.
I'm not happy. I want to be happy. I know my future happiness does not include you. I have to break up with you.

DO NOT engage in a conversation about this.

Then just go. Do not accept phone calls or e-mails for a period of time. You really do have to rip the band-aid off.

be prepared to be "the Bad Guy" among some friends for a while, but if they really cared about you and not some dream they've conjured up about the relationship they might have noticed your unhappiness.

Emotional manipulation can only happen if the lines of communication are open. Close them.
posted by Wilder at 3:35 AM on November 26, 2012 [55 favorites]

I came here to say exactly what Wilder said, and I'll add that if she financially depends on you in some way ("I support her. I helped her looking for jobs."), that needs to end immediately as well.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:37 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Great replies!

I actually counted this summer and she gave me 64 negative comments during the day.

The cilantro thing was just to surreal. Otherswise I would have snapped. But who the hell gets mad because I buy something for ME that she doesn`t like.

I gave her a piece of my mind the other day. Shes a journalist, working as a temp until march. So her mood was bad last week because there MAY be a chance she doesn`t get a continued contract (keep in mind she`s got 50.000$ in the bank and her dad is RICH). But she was pissy and mad about everything. I just told her that I didn`t deserve to get yelled at and treated like crap just because she had a bad day.

(that was after I had tried to cheer her up and told her that things will probably work out and that she needs to be positive, and she told me of for being to positive all the time, because she actually wanted pity and comfort (!!) )

After that she sulked the whole evening and the next day she was creepily sweet.

I am standing on the doorsill, trying to figure out how the door works. I`ve been so close for so long. But I have some kind of Stockholm Syndrome where I`m more concerdned about her coping than my own. So I have been slowly letting my life fall apart while making her "happy".

I was home alone this weekend. Was out drinking til 6 am with some good mates on friday. And at a stag night on saturday. And it was so relaxing to be "alone". Just doing my shit. But then she came home and its like the world pushed the pause-button and i was stuck in needy hell again.
posted by silvershadow at 3:42 AM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: Wilder and Inspector Gadget,

You are all so right!

I`m prepared for the bad guy-thing hanging over me. I don`t care. Just tired of being miserabel. I am not going to play the blame game. I just want to get the message across that I`m unhapppy and that I want out.

I have arranged for my best friend to pick up my stuff if it comes to that. And I know it will be better instantly when the deed is done. I just have to get there.

She will probably find someone else to make miserabel. or she will find someone who is actually happy with this life. But i ain`t and I want to leave.

Not supporting her financially. Other than paying for most of the food and gas etc. Shes well of financially and her dad is a superrich CFO-guy. (who`s been away most of her childhood working, while her mothers been home with her and her brothers. Bitter mother. Distand father. Lots to talk about in therapy I guess. )
posted by silvershadow at 3:48 AM on November 26, 2012

"How shocked can she possibly get?"
she can hurt herself and call the police accusing you of it.
When you tell her you're leaving she can say "what about the baby?"
She can trash all your stuff.

Get all your important papers, computer etc out right now.
Change passwords, get credit monitoring going, etc.
After you break up you should not see her, and she may not give your friend access to get the rest of your stuff, so if you can, move everything out while she is not home. Then you could wait for her outside, and it's a simple "I was not happy with you, I'm already out."
Protect yourself when you tell her, either with friends near by, or a recorder.
posted by Sophont at 4:02 AM on November 26, 2012 [11 favorites]

First off, THIS IS AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP. Her controlling behavior, her constant verbal smackdowns --- she is abusing you, she is emotionally holding you prisoner, and she is using all that drama and crying to manipulate you into doing whatever she wants. You deserve better, and you deserve a life of your own.

If you DON'T already live together: just flat-out tell her it's over --- don't try to have a formal discussion, that's never worked before: just say it's over and GO. Crisis in her family? She's got a new job? Locked herself in the bathroom crying? NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Literally walk out the door and GO. Hell, tell her it's over by text or email if you have to, but cut the cord. Then, do not accept ANY texts, emails, phone calls, visits or anything else: cut her off cold turkey. If she has any keys to your place, change the locks.

If you DO live together: okay, this one will be harder, but it's certainly still doable. First off, figure out where you can go --- temporarily move in with your parents, a sibling or a friend if you have to, until you can get a place of your own. (But don't wait until you DO have that place of your own: get out NOW.) If you have to, move your stuff out without warning while she's at work; if you have to couch-surf, shove your stuff in a rented storage unit --- do NOT expect to ever again see anything you leave behind, get everything you want to keep out now. Again, don't try to have a formal discussion, just GO, and cut off all contact cold turkey.

You don't have to tell her where you are, and you are not responsible for her behavior, her drama or her life --- you are only responsible for YOU. Take care of yourself!
posted by easily confused at 4:07 AM on November 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I'm usually the person arguing for more sympathy and understanding and full communication in breakups, but there is one exception: abusive relationships. You are in one. Get out.

Move while she's not home. Leave a letter explaining things, and turn off your phone or switch numbers. You do not want to be sucked back with real or imagined drama. (Posters above are not exaggerating. A friend of mine once was telling me how coincidentally, there was always a pregnancy scare right when he was about to leave his abusive girlfriend, which turned out magically to resolve! Do not underestimate her ability to say or do anything.

Also, READ THIS. It's kind of an often quoted thing, but it seems really, really applicable.
posted by corb at 4:21 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Keep buying Cilantro.

Seriously. You need to be nastier. Make her dump you. Give yourself a holiday from being a nice guy. Do all those things you've read about men doing in feminist novels. Your relationship will soon be terminated.

Oh lord, no. Don't do this.

I was an observer to a (now ex-) friend trying to get his wife to divorce him in this fashion. Two years of mind games and provocations between two unhappy people just so he didn't have to be the one to pull the trigger and initiate "the talk".

Prepare your exit. Know where you're going to go. Pack your stuff. Rehearse the speech. Deliver it. Brook no change in plan. Just rip the bandaid.
posted by outlier at 4:52 AM on November 26, 2012 [10 favorites]

Get out. This woman is scary controlling. Just do it.

I can't stand cilantro but that story was the tipping point.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:53 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I don`t really want to sneak out. For my own sake I want to gi confrontation a try. Not the whole blame game, but I want to tell her its over and leave.

I have a set of keys to the appartment. And if I in worse case scenario don`t get in there, so be it. I have smuggled out the most valuable things like computer and stuff i cherish. I can easily consider the rest sunk cost as long as I get out.

She`s crazy, but i don`t think she`s full blown crazy. Midscale. But I may be in denial. But I know its gonna be unpleasent. I don`t think its going to be scary, crazy violent etc. Just a hell of a lot of tiresome drama.
posted by silvershadow at 5:01 AM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: I have my own appartment, which I have rented out to a couple of friends. One of them recently moved out and I just didn`t rent it out to anyone else. So I have the room ready.

I don`t want all the mind games things. I hate the sensation of being at war all the time. It just builds up on the coincence thing when shes being sweet etc. I just have realised that my life is to short for this tiresome bullshit. I just want the strenght to tell her its over and that this was it.
posted by silvershadow at 5:04 AM on November 26, 2012

If she has her own apartment and "50.000$ in the bank" and you've got somewhere to go you've solved all the problems. Just do it.
posted by Jahaza at 5:13 AM on November 26, 2012 [11 favorites]

After you've left, you will feel horribly guilty for a while. That's just how this works. Don't act on it.

You're going to feel a lot of internal pressure to "make sure she's OK". She won't be OK. Not even a little bit. She'll be hurting bad. But the thing is: having pulled the plug on the relationship, fixing that is not your job any more and behaving as if it is will only make healing take longer for both of you.

So when you do rip that bandaid off, cut all contact. Don't take calls. Don't make calls. Don't visit. Don't contact her family. If you have mutual friends, refuse to participate at all in any conversation about her.

You need to give yourself permission to feel like a complete arsehole for a few months. Walking away from an abusive relationship does not make you one, but you will feel like one. Be OK with that. It's better to feel like an arsehole for a few months than to be treated like one for a lifetime.
posted by flabdablet at 5:20 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

FWIW the answer to the question "how do I break her heart?" is: you just do it. Very very very few breakups are mutual. When a couple splits, someone always gets their heart broken. That's how breakups work.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:20 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am already feeling the confidence grow by reading your replies.
posted by silvershadow at 5:36 AM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

Look up Borderline Personality Syndrome. You're not alone going through a relationship like this.

Break up as soon as you can. Give her no indication ahead of time that yore going to do it. Make sure that all of your stuff is out and in a safe place before you do it. You might want to warn your very close friends and family right afterwards that she might call them and say crazy stuff. Don't answer the phone, don't read emails or its from her. Break up with her in a public, safe place. Expect crazy accusations from her. Just ride it out, usually people like this get over abandonment in a few months, but it's a hard few months until they give up.

Best of luck.
posted by empath at 5:39 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have a feeling that after you break up and after you feel like a heel for a while -- sooner than you think, you're going to blink and realize "wait, why do I feel guilty about leaving that awful situation?" And you will come to think of her as one of your "what was I thinking" relationships. It's hard to see now, but you will get there. (And don't be alarmed if you go through a hedonist/sowing-wild-oats phase for a while after this - I did too after ending a similiarly-dysfunctional relationship.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:37 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, how to screw up the courage to leave someone who is abusive, pulling your emotional strings and making you feel like shit, but you're not quite there yet:


Begin to think of them as some disgusting, mean alien that you need to get away from. (That does not mean you treat them poorly, this is all in your head.) DETACH from the head games, do not play them anymore. Detach emotionally from how she makes you feel. Feeling guilty? DETACH. Feeling unappreciated? DETACH. Realize that you just haven't had enough emotional torture, YET. You think you have, but you haven't. When you truly have had enough of the bullshit, you'll leave, and not one second sooner.

Also, really and truly realize that TIME IS LITERALLY TICKING, ALWAYS. Tick, tick, tick. Can you go another month? Another 6 months? How about a year? Or five years? Ten years?

Getting free is like oxygen when you've been drowning, or a meal when you're starving to death. You have to love yourself MORE than you love the other person. You have to pull the trigger.

So let yourself off the hook. You just haven't had enough bullshit, YET. It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow or next week or next month, but SOON. You will have had enough. And you will leave, and it will be okay, I promise. I have faith in you :)
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:48 AM on November 26, 2012

Wilder has a good script, but I suggest cutting it down even more. Take out any "but"s and future-tense references to the break up. It's not *going* to happen (in the future where she can impact it), it *already* happened (in your head where it matters most).

You were right when you mentioned ripping off a band-aid: do it very quickly.

"I'm not happy. I haven't been happy. My participation in this relationship is over. I am moving out today."

Say the important thing very soon, before she can sense it coming and throw a fit to distract you. After you say those 4 short lines, you can leave, even if she's hysterical.

If she's not, you can throw in "I'll take the utilities out of my name" and "do not contact me", but script your FULL EXIT. know when to stand up and head for the door. You can disengage at any moment, so after your message is delivered, don't wait for a "resolved" moment to leave.

Break ups do not require consent.

Good luck
posted by itesser at 6:49 AM on November 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

It sounds like she knows you don't love her and loathe her underneath, and she's acting out because of mixed signals she gets from you. But that's her problem. The cilantro thing just sounds like she's terrified that you don't care about her even though you both wasted 3 years with each other (some people hate cilantro because it tastes like soap to them and they can't get it off their tongues).

She will be much happier after you leave her and probably will be grateful in the future. She sounds like she's been extremely lonely in an unhappy relationship. Being loathed by someone who says they love you but can't stand you can do a number on one's self esteem.

The sooner you two get away from each other, the better you both will be.
posted by discopolo at 7:08 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

You need a plan and then you need to get out.

There's no way this will be civil, so protect yourself from Dramaz.

1. When she's at work, move your shit out. Totally out, to another location.

2. Change your phone number, block your Facebook, etc.

3. Wait until she gets home that evening. Give her back her key and say, "I'm sorry, I've been unhappy for a long time, and I'm leaving. I know it hurts and I wish you well.

Then leave and don't look back.

There's nothing left to say and there's no way you can prepare her for this. The woman goes off when you buy the wrong herb.

Unless you're looking for drama and a fight, just clear out and stay out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:18 AM on November 26, 2012 [10 favorites]

I came in to say "change your phone number" but Ruthless Bunny already hopped to it! You may not have to do this but I suspect you will. Killfile on the email, blocking on social media, whatever it takes. You are in an abusive situation and your gf will not take no for an answer easily, especially since she probably has yet to hear it from you.

But with her I always feel like I`m not good enough. Like I`m a bad person. And that shes trying to fix me. Make me the guy she wants to be with.

After you end it, you will probably want to pay some attention to whether you really, truly feel good enough about yourself, period. Speaking from experience, some of us tend to wind up in "friendships" or relationships that confirm our negative feelings about ourselves.

Sometimes spiritual growth, for us "nice" guys and women, is telling someone to f* off. I wouldn't suggest those exact words in this situation, but assuming something like that mental position here will benefit you.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:51 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Rope in a friend -- your friend! -- in advance, let them know what you plan to do, and when, a specific date and time. Let them know you want them to follow up with you, to make sure you have gone through with it, kind of like having a buddy meet you at the gym to make sure you show up. Make sure it is someone who won't be accepting if you chicken out. It will help if you know you have someone who wants you to succeed, since she will really want you to fail.
posted by davejay at 8:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have been through this. It was with a young woman I really cared about, and our relationship was often quite good. But when it wasn't, it was awful. She was constantly upset with me over things that made no sense to me. She once had a crying jag at a theater when I accidentally knocked over her purse; we had to leave. She got very angry at me when I went through a revolving door before she did, claiming it was very rude, and that it was an example of what she saw as a chronic lack of manners on my part -- a claim that surprised me greatly, as I went through a phase when I was younger when I obsessively read etiquette books, and am considered by most to be exceptionally well-mannered. I double-checked, and, yes, according to Emily Post, men are supposed to go through revolving doors to get it started for a lady, for whatever reason. But pointing out that according to etiquette books I was right didn't assuage her feelings at all. She was horrifically jealous of my female friends and would fly into rages over the most innocuous things. Communication between me and her broke down constantly, resulting in screaming fights, something I do not enjoy and make me feel awful. I would try to get away from the fight and she would insist I remain, because we had to "work through it," which was impossible, because there was no resolution.

I knew it would be awful if I broke up with her. I knew she would take it very hard. And I cared very much for her, as I said -- when she wasn't awful, she was very sweet and fun and we had some marvelous times together. I believe that after we broke up she was diagnosed as being bipolar, which I suspected, but she was refusing to address it during the relationship. Eventually, after a year, I just broke down one day and told her I couldn't do it anymore. If she was not going to work on whatever was making her act like that toward me, I was the only one working on it, and I couldn't fix it. I told her the relationship was over.

And she took it as hard as I thought. We didn't talk for several months. She didn't leave her bed for a week. But she finally contacted me and we had a talk about trying to start over as friends, which we still are. And a month later, she started dating somebody else, and he broke up with her after two weeks, and she spent another week in bed, sobbing. Which made me realize her reaction to my breaking up with her had very little to do with me. I had thought, with the amount of time we had dated (a year), my breakup would have been more significant that her breakup with some stranger she dated very briefly, but instead it was as though she was just locked into an emotional pattern, where whoever breaks up with her, however long she has dated, she'll take to bed for a week. And that helped a lot, because I realized that, while I am sure there was some sadness on her part for the end of our relationship (there was on my part as well), a large majority of her emotional reaction had nothing to do with me at all.

Breaking up with her seemed like the hardest thing in the world until I did it, and then, when it was happening, it seemed necessary and inevitable and I wasn't sure what I had been so scared of. And, as I said, this is a person I still like and care about very much, and I honestly think that, had we not broken up, there would have been no chance of us maintaining a friendship this long.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [16 favorites]

Last year I got out of a similar (although a bit less dramatic) relationship. All the things you describe about negative comments and walking on eggshells, etc.

Just want to pop in and say that during the breakup talk, expect them saying really nice things to you. I got a lot of "you are the person I always want to talk to" "I miss you when you're gone", etc. etc., which really took me by surprise. I'd spent a year getting put down, and when I ended things, I get the nice talk. It was really jarring. If she had treated me like that during the relationship, it'd be a different story of course.
posted by Sreiny at 9:04 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Also expect crying, and her making a scene, even in public. The raw need to be loved (at least their own definition of it) of someone like this can be really painful to deal with and really hard to walk away from. Just steel yourself for it, and it's okay to cry afterwards. Just recognize that whatever she says or does, 90% of it has everything to do with her, and not you. You're just an empty vessel she can project her insecurities and fears on to.
posted by empath at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2012

I'm glad you've gotten your important stuff out already. I think it's a great idea to move as much of the rest of your stuff out while she's at work. If you want to confront her and tell her it's over, please have someone supportive with you. Or do it via a letter left there, or a phone call. Please don't do it in person by yourself. (Both to help you say the words you want and to keep her from making accusations to the police later.)

And it is okay to just leave an abusive relationship without having the break-up talk. (I've seen an abuser broken up with by having police officers let her know she'd been evicted, and it was a huge relief.)

You have your old apartment, but you still might want to stay with a friend she doesn't know/know well for a few weeks, so she can't track you down as easily.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:56 AM on November 26, 2012

Lots of good advice here. Good luck on making the break.

The only thing I'd want to add is the suggestion that, after the dust has settled, you do some real soul-searching about how you came to settle into this relationship, so that you don't end up in one just like it in the future.

Please understand that my intent here isn't to blame the victim--your girlfriend does really seem way out of line. But there was a path that led you into staying for years with someone who made you feel bad. In hindsight, can you see some red flags from early on? How did you react then? What would be a better, healthier response if you encountered a similar situation?

Don't be afraid to turn to books, friends, or a good counselor to try to find answers to those questions.

Good luck.
posted by Sublimity at 10:12 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

But I have some kind of Stockholm Syndrome where I`m more concerdned about her coping than my own.

That's because she's been engaging in emotional abuse for the last few years. It's OK to find a therapist to talk to while preparing for or dealing with the breakup.

Be prepared for getting hit with a bucket of crazy full in the face. I see breakups as part of my job and people get absolutely batshit insane and think of things to do to each other that a decent person like you could not begin to imagine. Have all your ducks lined up before you break it to her -- accounts, passwords, money, pets, possession. Be prepared to walk away and protect yourself from the forthcoming accusations that she's about to launch at the fan. After you've moved back into your apartment and given her the news, break off all contact and DO NOT RESPOND to the pregnancy announcements, suicide threats, malicious gossip, etc.

Walk away, put up a wall, and start giving yourself the life you deserve.
posted by mibo at 12:29 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree with a lot of what's already been said, but wanted to add one thing - you don't owe your friends or family an elaborate explanation of why you're breaking up with your girlfriend. For one thing, if it's as bad as you say, whatever truth you tell them will sound like trashtalk. But for another, they aren't the ones who had to date her, and it's none of their business.

Here's a few handy lines for people who aren't your girlfriend:

We're just looking for different things.

I'm not ready for the kind of commitment she's looking for.

She's not the One, and I don't want to waste her time.

We just aren't clicking, it doesn't feel right.

The timing is off, we're at different places in our lives.

We wanted different things out of the relationship.

Good luck! I lived with someone like this once; it was a complete nightmare.
posted by kythuen at 12:29 PM on November 26, 2012

Seconding changing all your passwords, even if you don't think she has access to your accounts. Email, facebook, voicemail, whatever you can think of.
posted by empath at 12:36 PM on November 26, 2012

I'm helping someone who in the past few days has left a 25 year marriage, the last 10 at least of which he suffered physical violence at the hands of his wife as well as the crazy drama you describe. Like you he worries "how she'll cope", and worries even more about the teenage child he's left there.
Don't be him.
posted by sianifach at 1:19 PM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: Good advice!

I have actually done a good deal of Soul searching allready. And i do think i have some clues about why i'm still in this mess. Something about being dumped before, trying to not give her as much pain and instead making a bigger and bigger grave for myself. I partly also Could not understand why the hell someone would act like this if it wasn't my fault. Took me some time to realize these are her issues.

All the same, my sister is a doctor and has found me a therapist to talk to. I also has a chat with my mates mom, whos a phychiatrist. She told me to stop being so kind to a persone who took advantage of me.

I also went to copenhagen on a worktrip this fall. There i met an old flame. Who is not crazy, mean etc. She really cares about me and we spent a lot of time together. Nothing happened, but i remembered that i used to be this cool guy, who dated cool women, held awesome parties and did cool stuff. That worked as a catalyst for me and i have been trying to man up the last month.

The thing is that the rationale me knows she will survive. And i will be happy on the other side. Its just this huge blocking in my head that stops me. Like i subconciently believe this will be armageddon. How do i break down the wall and say screw it, Lets do it?

Ps: have arranged to stay at my sister who lives 20 miles out of town the First couple of days.
posted by silvershadow at 2:51 PM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Like i subconciently believe this will be armageddon

You're already living through armageddon.
posted by empath at 2:53 PM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: Thing is, i never thought i would ve this guy. The wuzz. And then denial playes in to.

"she can't be that cruel, what did i do. Is it me" etc.

Took a lot of mental work to See its not me.
posted by silvershadow at 2:54 PM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: Yes. I know. But for some reason i accepted to live in hell, so i wouldn't have to Go through hell. Which is annoying. But you start fearing that you Are just imagining all the lunacy
posted by silvershadow at 2:56 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chances are, you have more than one friend who only puts up with your gf because you do and desperately wants you to get out. Find one of those friends and tell him (probably far less drama if it's a him than a her, but your lady friends probably dislike her also) that you are planning to get out and how and when you plan on doing it.

Get your stuff out while she's gone, change your passwords, etc and, ideally, plan the confrontation in a public place. Break up with her over coffee or whatever (something where you've paid in advance and can just leave), and then meet up with your friend who should be waiting nearby and should be ready to get you DRUNKed as soon as it's over. Looking forward to fun times with Friend will make the pain of the confrontation a little better.

After fun times, go to the new place. Don't plan on ever going back to your old place.

(and stop threadsitting ^_^)
posted by sparklemotion at 2:58 PM on November 26, 2012

Man, I have lived this existence you described and I know exactly what you're feeling. And trust me, you're not a bad guy for breaking off a dead relationship. This is one of those situations where you need to look out for you and you alone. No matter what, she'll cry and lose it. But you know what? So do normal people when someone breaks up with them. Breakups suck, period.

What you need to do is set a date. I always set up roadblocks for myself as well, like "But there's her cousin's wedding that weekend so I need to wait until after that" or "I just need to save a little more money" or "She's in a funk right now and I don't want to push her deeper into it." But there's never a perfect time. NEVER. You just need to give yourself like two weeks, make sure that you know where you can stay until you find a new place, and then do it knowing full well that there will be tears and it's gonna feel like shit and yadda yadda yadda.

But brother, does it ever feel better on the other side. You're gonna walk with more confidence, colours are going to be brighter, and she's going to be better off as well. There's nothing but upside to you ending this thing and ending it pronto.
posted by fso at 3:21 PM on November 26, 2012

Just wanted to second that this is abusive, and that a lot of abused people tend to worry about their abusers. They won't leave because they think their abuser is too fragile and will fall apart without them. But that's almost the case-- they'll be fine. They're taking advantage of your compassion. They'll move on and find someone else to sap the energy and self-esteem from. They're not interested in fixing their problems and the best thing you can do is leave them on the off-chance it'll be a wake-up call. She'll be fine, she has like a million dollars.

And it will NOT be Armageddon-- it can be one conversation, picking up your stuff, and deleting her contact info, and that's that. Cold turkey. It's the best way. You will get through it relatively unscathed. (Seeing as you're being scathed like every day of your life that you spend with her.)

Abused people can ALWAYS find excuses not to leave their abusers. It's the conventional wisdom about abusive relationships-- it takes most woman multiple attempts to leave her abuser, are the terms you'll usually hear that advice in. I've had first-hand experience trying to help an abused women and she had an endless stream of excuses and went back to him multiple times. Stopping the flow of anxiety on their behalf and leaving for good is the ultimate goal.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:37 PM on November 26, 2012

I just realized that was a really rude-sounding response, but as far as "how to get past the mental block," what's worked for me is really steeling myself inside to the point where I can't fake it anymore. Your relationship is not a relationship-- it's abusive and she's acting like a child. Once you really internalize that if you're anything like me you'll come to a crisis point where you have to leave, you just can't put on a happy face or go through the motions anymore.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:42 PM on November 26, 2012

You can shoot yourself in the feet some more- and soon to be shooting yourself in the knees.... Or you can break up with her. Breaking up with her is not your fault, and you gave her a LOT of time and sanity. You cant fix her, you cant change her, you cant solve the relationship, and THE ONLY WAY you can soften Llama-CRAZY reactions is to break up, hard, fast, firmly, and don't look back. The sooner the better. You are doing the right thing for you AND her, no matter what her messed up brain sees it as.
posted by Jacen at 3:45 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

(I love all mefi mods.) Earlier post sandbagged due to a veritable shit storm of fauxscot rudeness.... so i shall try again with my diplomacy filter engaged....

you need to exit this situation, for your personal health and for your progression into adulthood. it's easy enough, I think, if you set a date, make the prep, do the deed, live wiht the consequences. many, many people have done this before, so you will live through it, and before long, wonder what took so long.

after it's all dust free, mine it for clues as to how you let it happen and how you are going to avoid it in the future. it's a tragic mistake you have made, and you are the one empowering another person to impede a normal life. you are young, so you don't maybe know what a normal life is, but this one you describe is not normal. it's also training you how to be a bad decision maker, so please, for your own good and that of the planet, use this wonderful chance to make good decisions and take care of you.

as with all of us, your job #1 is to wake up tomorrow morning, every day. you have to take care of you, because one day, you may outlive all your caretakers and you'll need to know how it's done. it's just adulthood, and it stinks to hurt other people, but man, you gotta learn to put you first for a while. sounds like you've given being a sacrificial caretaker a good trial, so don't feel too bad.

gotta do it. make it 1/1/2013? good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 6:01 PM on November 26, 2012

I would like to Nth the notion that this is a seriously abusive relationship! You have a duty to yourself to get the fuck out of that hell and start enjoying your life.

A word of advice from a paranoid lady, though: take care to do things in a way she can't screw with you. As in...make sure you have "witnesses" the last day you see her and before she finds out, and ask your best friend to somehow check on her so she can't say you harassed her, or attacked her. People like this can get really vindictive when they don't get their way. If you have a good friend you trust, tell them the truth. She is abusive and you want to get out, but you are afraid that she will want to get revenge. In fact, you can even visit the police station on your way out and tell them you are leaving a difficult relationship and you fear retaliation. Then stay with friends so they can confirm you did not go back to her place after she got back from work. If she gets weird, don't hesitate for a second and RUN to get a restraining order. It may seem too much, but her behavior is scarily calculating and it looks like she knows exactly what she does, which is why everyone else in your circle sees her as a perfect catch.

*Also the fact that her dad is rich and possibly well connected doesn't help, so yeah...take care.
posted by Tarumba at 7:19 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: " Just wanted to second that this is abusive, and that a lot of abused people tend to worry about their abusers. They won't leave because they think their abuser is too fragile and will fall apart without them. But that's almost the case-- they'll be fine. They're taking advantage of your compassion. They'll move on and find someone else to sap the energy and self-esteem from. They're not interested in fixing their problems and the best thing you can do is leave them on the off-chance it'll be a wake-up call. She'll be fine, she has like a million dollars."

To to hard at all. I need the tough love, and the compassion.

The rationale me understands that its me whos losing. But the other me worries about being a bastard for not giving fair warning. "if I act like everything is fine and dandy today, isn`t it unfair and cruel of me to dump her tomorrow" and that kind of idiotic nonsense. I want to break out of that stupid train of thought.

And I want to be home for christmas. Single.
posted by silvershadow at 2:12 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

"But the other me worries about being a bastard for not giving fair warning. "if I act like everything is fine and dandy today, isn`t it unfair and cruel of me to dump her tomorrow" and that kind of idiotic nonsense. I want to break out of that stupid train of thought. "

See, this is the trap you fall into when your decision hinges on labeling her as the bad guy, condemning her behavior, etc. It seems to make sense, when you realize you've lost a chunk of your life this way, to blame the other person, and to ride out of the situation on a wave of righteous anger. But if you regard sticking around as a reward for good behavior, and leaving as punishment, then leaving when she's behaving decently (however temporarily) makes *you* into the capricious, wicked one, and your natural resistance to that role puts control back into her hands.

The fact that you are unhappy is enough.

The fact that you are unhappy is enough.

The fact that you are unhappy is enough.

Your feelings do not need justification. Leaving is not punishment, it's a decision. Make it.
posted by jon1270 at 3:07 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

simple practical step. Arrange a date and time with your sister to help you move out. EVEN IF YOU DON'T NEED ANY SUCH HELP!

it gives you the exact push you will need. Believe me.

I had an aunt with a suitcase come at an agreed date & time. I don't know how I would have fared if I didn't have that little push-pull of someone else coming to metaphorically help me close that chapter of my life.

It was soooo painful but the relief is something to look forward to, really.
posted by Wilder at 6:05 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Way up above, I suggested no discussion: just tell her it's over and then literally walk to the door, grab the doorknob and GO.... you've said you don't want to sneak out. The thing is, you HAVE had the long talks about how it's over, and every time she goes all DRAMAZ!!! on you, you cave and nothing changes. You do not need permission, especially from an abuser, to leave them! You HAVE given her fair warning, time and time again; this time, JUST WALK OUT. Leave her a note or a message on her phone if you want, but don't worry about hurting her feelings by not haveing that same discussion yet again.

And that therapist is a GREAT idea, stick with it!
posted by easily confused at 6:16 AM on November 27, 2012

You are allowed to be afraid, you are just not allowed to let fear stop you from doing the right thing. -Brian Germain..
She might throw a hissy fit. Maybe you can get in contact with her family and tell them you are breaking up with her and that you are worried about her reaction. I was in a situation like this before but it was with a guy. It ended pretty badly with him threatening suicide. I left and didn't look back. He never killed himself or hurt himself. Most likely just cried.
posted by Autumn89 at 7:33 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

How do I get out of this? I want to rip of the bandaid. But I feel so completely stuck. How to I break her heart without feeling like the worst human in the world? How shocked can she possibly get?

Part of the problem is, well, you. Things are bad because you have let them be, and you are still letting them be...

If you want to talk to her then be ready for the drama. Maybe you'll also get to see a much nastier side to her that you don't think she has right now, and maybe you'd rather learn this the hard way.

If you don't want the drama, then follow some advice here. I'd personally go for 5_13's suggestion- and I am all for respecting the other person enough to talk about such things in person. Your girl, in my opinion, is an exception.

Where does it say that ripping off the bandaid hurts only the person with the bandaid? Breakups hurt. But if people learn from them then in the next 5-10 years you can both look back and be grateful that it happened.
posted by xm at 10:47 AM on November 27, 2012

Response by poster: This may be the denial talking. But the thing is, I could run away while she`s away. But it would always feel like running away. And I don`t want to be the guy who runs away from my problems. I have written the letter. I know where all my stuff is(in four easily accessable zones in the appartment) and etc. I have the plan B- running away part ready.

But I want to give the confrontation one last try. Not for her. For me. The psychiatrist mom of my mate told me that was the path i should chose, to give me closure. I want to be able to move on as fast as possible. But I have hesitatet doing so, because the times I have tried before I have wussed out. I haven`t been prepared. I have given in. I want to be stronger than that. I want to own my faith, not run away from it.

But fore some reason I have gotten it in my head that I can`t just dump someone. Which is crazy.
posted by silvershadow at 12:55 PM on November 27, 2012

But I want to give the confrontation one last try. Not for her. For me.

This is not healthy. People with borderline thrive on confrontation. They live for it. You gain nothing from it. You are going to be in for a world of pain if you confront her, and there's a better than even chance that you are going to walk away thinking that everything is your fault. You aren't going to make anything better for your or your girlfriend by doing it.
posted by empath at 1:47 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you've planned to confront her before and wussed out, and you're planning to confront her now, you are self-sabotaging and planning to fail. Just go. You can leave the letter and go through the closure of letting her cry, scream and manipulate you later, when you are out.

But fore some reason I have gotten it in my head that I can`t just dump someone. Which is crazy.

It's not crazy but it is fucking stupid. If people were not allowed to just dump other people, we would all be married to our highschool boyfriends and girlfriends, and fucking miserable.

Because your girlfriend so easily manipulates them, your emotions have not done a very good job of leading you towards a happy outcome in this situation so far. So you know: logic over emotion, young Spock.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:28 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

I posted this quite some time ago and it seems somewhat relevant... paraphrasing below:

A friend and flatmate of mine was dating a girl who sounds a lot like your gf. I witnessed a lot of their interaction (living with them), and I once saw her scream at him and throw things at him for bringing the wrong kind of sandwich spread home. She made him feel like he was the most terrible person, and it was something he bought into.

From the outside, I could see how he could buy into it, as she was clearly unbalanced, where she could be bubbly and lovely and the most fun to be with, to deep depression, to raging anger, at the flick of a switch.

Turned out she was manic depressive, that only came out after he broke up with her. But from the inside of the relationship, the glaring problems and arguments over nothing don't appear from day 1, it can happen slowly and insidiously and you might not even notice it from inside the paradigm of the relationship. It wasn't until a few of us spoke with him and said "you can either live or die slowly ... in this relationship you are dying slowly".

Apparently that reality slap made him realise that he didn't have to stay in the relationship no matter what the cost.
posted by Admira at 12:07 AM on November 28, 2012

No relationship begins with either party belittling and demeaning the other, screaming at them, throwing tantrums, making unfair demands and generally abusing the other partner. If it happened that way, with someone abusing you on the first or second date, well, it's very, very simple: you just wouldn't see them again.

So this is a thing that is quite clear to me: the person who begins to abuse their partner at some point soon after the relationship is securely established almost always makes a very conscious choice to do this. Yes, there are all sorts of things to take into considertion about why someone may act this way, but there's no getting past the bald fact that they did not act that way when they were trying to woo you. They knew that behavior wouldn't fly, so they used the boiling frog method to draw you in, and then build up to a level of mistreatment, abuse, or exploitation that they wouldn't have dared to unleash on you in the early stages before you were conditioned to accept such treatment.

I'm not saying the abusive partner is completely aware of making a step-by-step plan, but their MO is still brutally effective and the mechanism is clearly there; they present themselves in one way to attract you, and then choose to mistreat you when they believe you will not just walk away from them: they flip that switch. They make that choice.

They cover this simple fact with confusion by relating it to stress, bad things that have happened to them, things that "you do" that "makes them" act that way, illness, addiction, bad luck, etc. This is the magician's trick of redirection: do not look at what my hand is doing – pay attention to all this other complicated stuff! Meanwhile, their hand is Flipping That Switch from hot/fun/nice person you want to spend more time with to angry/abusive user who makes you feel trapped and miserable. They choose that. They choose.

This is why I do not have guilt feelings about leaving such a relationship. I'm not a monster so I do have lifelong pity, regret, concern for the person I once loved... but guilt, or any reason to stay? No, I do not feel that.

(This is quite different, by the way, than sticking with a person you love and who loves you when they do go through a difficult period of any kind.)
posted by taz at 1:27 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The borderline thing someone mentioned here kinda threw me. I googled it, and talked with my sister whos a doctor and knows the GF. She agreed she showed a lot of the signs of BPD.

That shaved off a lot of guilt for me. The last 24 hours my mind has been racing. But all the crazy falls in to place. This has nothing to do with me. Or probably some. But all the same. I am not cruel etc.

Time to escape.

(I LOVE this forum)
posted by silvershadow at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I hope you have actually broken up with her by now - as I'm sure you will let us know.

What I want to mention is that apart from her being totally manipulative and controlling, you have also let yourself be totally manipulated and controlled - which is about 50% of the problem.

Neither of you are "bad" people, and in fact, she's probably just as unhappy as you are, but in a different way. Yes, getting out of this relationship is going to feel wonderful, but it would be good for you to continue seeing a therapist.

It would be a good idea to figure out what things about yourself kept you in this relationship for so long, because it's quite possible you will find yourself in a relationship with someone similar in the future.

If you haven't been able to break up with her yet, don't feel bad. You are on your way out, it just may take longer than you realize. Keep reading up about addictive relationships, manipulation, codependency, control and remember - you are responsible for your half of your relationship, for example, sticking around for so long. She is responsible for her half - treating you like crap, and she knows it.

When you can finally stop feeling responsible for how she feels, and take responsiblity for yourself, you will be able to leave - and she will be free to become responsible for herself (and whether she does or not won't matter, not your responsibility!)
posted by Locochona at 2:20 PM on November 28, 2012

Response by poster: I am not out yet. I have set a date I am sticking with. Want to be completly prepared, so I dont wuss out at the last minute again.

As I said, my goal is to go home for christmas being single.
posted by silvershadow at 12:20 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Felt all the courage drain from my system the last couple of days. Tok half a day of today and went through this post again. Starting to get the courage back. Working on detaching emotionally and not engaging.
posted by silvershadow at 1:52 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Hi, silvershadow, moderator here. Ask Metafilter is not meant to be a back-and-forth discussion area, or a place for ongoing updates. Basically the poster asks the question, people answer, and the poster only comments to answer questions from commenters, or to clear up misunderstandings. In the end, if the situation has been resolved, the poster may offer a final comment saying what did/didn't work. So, the general rule is just relax, consider the answers/suggestions, and update with the results later if you think it might be helpful to others.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:43 AM on November 30, 2012

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Just thought I would update this tread and say I got out 3 months ago. She took it much worse then I ever imagined. But is was so worth it. Have gotten my life together. Moved back to my old apartment. Gotten myself a new dog. Cought up with old friends. Been on a couple of dates.

Just to let other people in the same situation know there is hope. It will get better if you get out. It will be hard, but it will be the best thing you ever do.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:14 PM on March 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

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