we need to break up, right?
September 30, 2019 6:07 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out whether and how I should end things with my boyfriend.

Please refer to my question history for context about this relationship (if you don't mind).

The short version is that my boyfriend and I were FWB for a really long time and he gave me no indication that he wanted more until he learned that I had started dating someone else.

We have been trying for nearly a year to make this work.

The main conflict is that he feels that me dating someone else without telling him was a massive betrayal, tantamount to cheating in him - even though we were not in a relationship while I was seeing the other guy. Our relationship was nothing more than casual FWB. And things with the other guy never got serious enough for me to think it was worth bringing it up. It was already over by the time my boyfriend found out about it, and it seemed like he had taken the incident as a wake up call to own up to his feelings about me and make our thing official.

Since then, he just can't get over the fact that for three months I was seeing someone else. He's hurt that I went looking for a boyfriend who was emotionally available (even though he admits that as FWB he was trying to keep me at arm's length to avoid catching feelings). He is absolutely obsessed with what I may or may not have done sexually with this other guy. He thinks it's unfair I got to sleep with someone else and he didn't. He looked through my phone and my emails to get more information about the guy and flipped out when he found info (via communication with my best friend) about the guy. He says I am a liar and a cheat.

He berates me about this constantly. Every ten days or so. He threatens to leave me, he calls me a slut and a whore, he makes me constantly repeat over and over again the information he got via invading my privacy about what I did sexually with this other guy. The other guy was an alcoholic mess and treated me poorly so reliving all of this stuff is actually fairly traumatic for me (I have bipolar and CPTSD). He says things like "You were my fuckdoll and now you are someone else's and it will never be just us." (the word fuckdoll actually makes me vomit a bit in my throat when I hear it, it's so dehumanizing.) He yells he rages he screams, I cry and beg him to forgive me and not to leave. Sometimes I'll go into a full blown panic attack and lose control and out of fear I shove him and then we get into shoving matches. (I'm not proud of this behavior of mine and I'm trying to get it under control.) He stays but says I need to make it up to him by being the perfect girlfriend. When I ask him what that means he says I need to pull my head out of my ass and make some hard choices and figure it out myself.

He picks these fights with me late at night, when I'm trying to go to sleep. The fights usually last 2-3 hours and disrupt my sleep. In the morning, I am depressed and barely functional. He feels guilty when he sees how upset he's made me and then for the next few days is very sweet and loving, until something else sets him off. He says he has no idea what triggers his anger.

Last night he picked a fight with me about this. This morning I am starting an amazing new job after several years of underemployment. I needed a good night's sleep and I needed to be on my game this morning and he knew that. He did it anyway. I even was halfway expecting it. Now I have to report for my first day in a half hour and I'm exhausted, sleep deprived, and depressed. I need to make a good impression and I'm afraid I won't be able to in this mental state. I'm angry that he put me in this position.

I need to break up with him, right? This is abuse, right?

Please help me figure out how to do this. I just bought a house and we moved in together. I'm afraid that financially I won't be able to afford the mortgage without him. I'm also afraid I won't be able to take care of the house (lawn, roof, other issues) without his help.

I also still love him, even though I know that's embarrassing, and I don't want to lose him. Up until this, he's always been such a good presence in my life and the thought of never seeing him again makes me unable to breathe.

Help me Mefites, what do I do? And how? Help me I'm so scared and sad. I have to go to work now and somehow impress them on three hours of sleep. I'm desperate for help, please help me and please be gentle I don't think I can take tough love right now.
posted by buckminsterfullerene to Human Relations (86 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I made it to the part where he calls you a slut and a whore and I had to stop. You do need to get out, he is abusing you and you do not deserve any of this. This guy has major issues.

Is there a friend you can stay with to ride out the loneliness? Sticking out with him is going to make your mental health issues much much worse imo.
posted by shaademaan at 6:13 AM on September 30, 2019 [105 favorites]

You may need to get a plan in order before you leave in order to be safe. This may warrant quickly moving your stuff while he is out, or ejecting his and having a restraining order in hand. I’m sorry nobody deserves this abuse.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:16 AM on September 30, 2019 [15 favorites]

Yes -get him out of the house. That is very abusive, he is controlling, and he is trying to make you think you are dependent upon him, or trying to make you outright fail at work so you are dependent upon him. I don't expect he will take you dumping him very well at all, do you have any friends or family in the area that can be physically around when you ask him to leave? Also, do not fall for whatever he will say when you ask him to leave. He will try to tell you how sorry he is, how things will be different, etc. It's all lies. Nothing will change. You will be punished for trying to leave. Please get out of this relationship now.
posted by kellyblah at 6:17 AM on September 30, 2019 [13 favorites]

A platonic housemate can pay rent, help with chores and be another (hopefully non-abusive) presence in your house so you are not alone when you get rid of this guy.
posted by slateyness at 6:17 AM on September 30, 2019 [44 favorites]

Go to a woman’s shelter so you’re not alone, break up with him remotely and once he’s gone you can get a room mate if you don’t want to live by yourself. But either way, you need to get out of this relationship urgently.
posted by Jubey at 6:19 AM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

Why are you still in any contact with this abusive person? DTMFA.
posted by blueberry at 6:22 AM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

I need to break up with him, right? This is abuse, right?

Yes. Definitely, no question.

I'm afraid that financially I won't be able to afford the mortgage without him. I'm also afraid I won't be able to take care of the house (lawn, roof, other issues) without his help.

Is there a spare bedroom? Could you take on a housemate to replace whatever financial contribution your boyfriend is currently making?

I have struggled with suicidal ideation all my life and I don't think I can be in my house alone if he leaves.

Do you have a friend who can stay with you for a little while until the peak emotional intensity of the separation dies down? Do you like cats? The right cat can be really emotionally soothing.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 6:23 AM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

The reason why you feel like maybe you should break up with this person is because you should break up with this person.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:28 AM on September 30, 2019 [20 favorites]

You will find the strength to break up! And you will find a way to afford the mortgage! You can totally do this!!

Is there a friend or family member you could ask to stay with you tonight or for a few days? Could you stay elsewhere if needed?

I have been in a similar situation and I know how hard it is. I have to go class but will write more later. <3 I'm so glad you wrote -- we are here for you!
posted by smorgasbord at 6:30 AM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

Oh my god he sounds so awful. If I found out somebody I knew treated his girlfriend this way I couldn't even be his friend. I wouldn't acknowledge him in the street! This is abuse and you deserve so, so much better. I'm sorry he has turned on you this way.

I don't know enough about where you are to offer specific links, but considering that he lives with you and his irrational and angry behaviour, I would see if there are any domestic abuse resources to help you come up with a plan to get out of this relationship safely. Call a friend to come and stay with you and then help you look for a housemate. This dude comes across as potentially dangerous.

You can take care of the house, I've found when push comes to shove you either figure it out or call somebody, it will be fine. The house will not fall down in a matter of months, and when stuff pops up you'll google it or ask metafilter and you'll work something out. Especially once you're not sleep deprived and traumatised all the time by your bf.

I know not everyone has a good support network, but if you have anybody else close to you - talk to them about this. I'm sure they'll want to help you and stay with you if they can. If you were nearby and my friend I'd be there in a heartbeat.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:31 AM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Run. Run fast and far away. Please.
posted by nkknkk at 8:39 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

If I weren't at work, I'd be screaming at the computer. Yes, yes, please break up. You're getting a lot of good feedback about his abusive behavior, so I'll leave that to other and just say that this:

We have been trying for nearly a year to make this work.

is not how anyone describes the first year of a successful relationship.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:45 AM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm afraid that financially I won't be able to afford the mortgage without him.

You will. You're going to be able to get through a month even with an unhappy mortgage company, and then you're going to be able to get a housemate to cover half the mortgage. You are also going to KICK ASS AT YOUR JOB.

I'm also afraid I won't be able to take care of the house (lawn, roof, other issues) without his help.

You will. Your fear of this is a reflection of the abusive conditioning in your relationship. You are a capable adult. You 100% can learn to push a lawn mower and pull weeds out of your gutters.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:48 AM on September 30, 2019 [34 favorites]

You deserve so, so much more than this man.

I was similarly unsure of whether I should break up with someone who was all wrong for me when I was 24. I was carrying our entire financial life on my shoulders, paying entirely for the costs of all our living expenses and trying to keep things together while he "tried to break into freelance desktop publishing". I also fervently believed I loved him.

It took our breaking up for me to realize that a) we simply were not a good combination, and b) I had been mistaking a need to love someone with actual genuine love for him. I did love him early on, but that had turned into co-dependency and I just simply didn't know any better.

Within a few months of our breaking up, not only did I land on my feet, but so did he - he finally shaped up and went on to grad school, and eventually married someone some years later. (Then recently his life took another downturn that made me realize "holy crap I dodged a bullet" and reinforced that he had been all wrong for me.) My breaking up with him made me discover some strengths I didn't know I had - a resilience that I'm still drawing on today, and a compassion that I value. I still needed to get banged up a couple times to more fully turn that compassion onto my own self.

And the people I dated after him were light-years better. I deserved them; you also deserve the people who will come along after you break off with this guy.

For you should. Other people will be there ready to catch you and support you, you will figure out how to make the house work out, and your subsequent boyfriends will be so much better for you because you've been given a valuable "oh, so THAT'S what this behavior looks like, let me get out early" lesson.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

He threatens to leave me, he calls me a slut and a whore

posted by robself at 8:59 AM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

He berates me about this constantly. Every ten days or so. He threatens to leave me, he calls me a slut and a whore

Fuck this trash masquerading as a human.

Here is your script: "We're done. I'm putting your stuff outside." Then you don't talk to him ever again except to say through the door that you're calling the police.

You'll be so much better. You'll get a roommate if you need to. You can do this. We believe in you. I'm so sorry you are being abused by this, again, absolute piece of sentient refuse, but it is not your fault.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:01 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

This is absolutely abuse and completely unacceptable and you need to break up with this person ASAP.

Because this person is abusive and could potentially get violent you need to have someone you trust with you when you break up. You need to make sure someone is staying with you at your home.

You also need to call the National Domestic Violence hotline today and get advice about how to make sure this person does not have access to you home from the moment you break up with him. I would be very, very worried that post break up this person could lash out by vandalizing your home, so you need to be prepared. Normally, I would say go somewhere else, but I think you need to stay in your home and have a friend or relative with you at all times.

Once this person is gone you will find that you are in fact capable of so much! You'll be able to unclog sinks, pull weeds, call a handy-person, paint your bedroom all without this jerk. You will get a roommate who can help you pay the mortgage and other bills. You will invite your neighbors over for a party, so you have people on your block looking out for you and who can help you.

You can do this!

Because this person has been living with you and paying expenses the law in your state may see them as a tenant who has rights to be on the property. You may need to file a police report before you change locks or put his stuff on the lawn. Please check on this today.
posted by brookeb at 9:06 AM on September 30, 2019 [33 favorites]

However bad it is now, it will be worse the next year, and worse still the year after that.

This will never, ever get better. You will never be happy or whole in this relationship.

Get out as soon as you possibly can.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:08 AM on September 30, 2019 [12 favorites]

The main conflict is that he feels that me dating someone else without telling him was a massive betrayal, tantamount to cheating in him - even though we were not in a relationship while I was seeing the other guy.

I stopped reading when I got to this part. I didn’t need to read earlier questions. But apparently based on advice above, this guy is not only an asshole but also an abusive asshole.

As someone who has struggled with chronic depression my entire adulthood and who has frequently grappled with suicidal ideation (which I personally understand as my quirky brain giving me bad information that should never be acted on), I am going to suggest that 1. you make a safety plan as others have suggested, 2. you work on the suicidal ideation thing immediately in whatever manner you can afford and is available, see the MetaFilter resource page somewhere, 3. try to remember that love is a necessary but insufficient requirement for a healthy relationship. That you love him means that you have the capacity to love, which is awesome.

That means you can love again. And right now you need to love your own self as deeply, as fiercely, as passionately as you have ever loved another human being in your life. Especially this guy. Remember that you do not need his permission to break up with him. Remember to break up with him in a way that is safe. Remember that dependence and healthy love are two different things.

Be patient, be cunning, be fiercely self protective, be safe. There is a whole wealth of experience here among people who have also escaped abusive relationships. I have not had your particular experience exactly but I was in a somewhat similar relationship in which every bad feeling or bit of discomfort my partner had was my responsibility and my fault. And for the longest fucking time, I believed it.

You deserve better; every human being deserves better. Do breathing exercises; meditate if that helps; watch kitten videos. Exercise. Do all the things you can to get yourself through the prep for the break up and through the break up itself. You won’t do it perfectly, partly because no human is perfect and partly because this guy is a nightmare. So don’t judge yourself harshly, do the best you can, and know that we are rooting for you. Take care!
posted by Bella Donna at 9:10 AM on September 30, 2019 [12 favorites]

Spending any mental energy on deciding whether or not his behavior is abuse* will give him an opening to litigate whether or not what he is doing is technically abuse and try to undermine your decision to end things. Here are the absolute, incontrovertible facts of your situation:

You are experiencing distress in response to his behavior. You have asked him to stop. He has proven unwilling to stop when you asked him to do so.

That, right there, is reason enough to end this relationship. It could be abuse or it could be eating crackers in bed; your asking him to curb his behavior in light of the distress that it causes you and his refusal to do so are sufficient cause to remove him from your life. Please do so safely; your description of him portrays someone prone to escalation.

* It absolutely is, but that is beside the point.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:12 AM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

This is misogynistic abuse: sexually degrading insults, berating you about your sexual history, invading your privacy, messing with your sense of safety and self-worth. The fact that he does this stuff late at night is another huge red flag: sleep deprivation is a form of torture that will disrupt your ability to think and defend yourself and it is not an accident that this man is using this tactic.

Please contact your local women’s shelter and get their advice and support on how to get this man out of your life. This situation will only get worse.

You do not deserve this. Please have your own back.
posted by rpfields at 9:14 AM on September 30, 2019 [12 favorites]

Sleep deprivation is a form of abuse, yes.

I understand the pull, and the fear of not having him in your life. It gets intertwined, like having an octopus grabbing you, until you don't know what's what. That's part of the abuse, making you feel crappy about yourself and telling you to be better, etc. I mean, fuckdoll? That means you could be interchangeable with any woman. So it's not you, it's him, and if he were dating any other woman, she would get the exact same treatment, because abusers see woman as objects.

Since you are living with him, hopefully the mortgage is in your name. You might want to consult an attorney to find out how to legally evict him, when you are ready. Yes, it's scary, so take it one step at a time. First, get the information on eviction, especially if he pays rent. Some attorneys will do a free consult, or one for a fee, find out in advance. It's just a few phone calls to find one, you're not obligated to follow through, but it's good to have the info, in case you do throw him out and he claims tenancy.

I'd call the domestic violence hotline and get some advice from them. It doesn't mean you have to take any further steps, just talk to someone and get some information.

It is scary to think about moving on from something this intense, but the one thing you need to keep in mind is that he will never, ever change. He will do this over and over, and it might get worse as time goes on (it did in my case).

It took me at least 3 weeks to just come down from the adrenaline, and the feelings of missing him, just to be able to start to think straight. So if/when you do split up and get him out, give yourself time to just sort of get your head on straight. It's not like normal break-ups, it's intense, because he's been messing with your head for so long. If you have friends, have them come over and visit, clean the heck out of your house, throw yourself into your new job, exercise like crazy, and keep yourself busy.

Keep a bag in your car, with spare clothes and toiletries, just in case you need to leave for a day or two (to go to a friend's or a shelter, hotel for a night, etc.). Have an extra phone charger in your car. Keep your keys and cellphone somewhere safe, maybe in the pocket of an old hoodie, and if it gets too rough for you, tell him you're going to the 24-hour gas station, grab that old hoodie, and get the hell out of Dodge for a night.

If you do break up with him, maybe have a friend there with you when you do it (preferably a big beefy friend), so he can't pull any crap. Some guys, when they realize you mean business, will pout and slink away and very quickly move onto their next victim (as my ex did, and we had multiple break-ups before I finally got away for good).

You're the best judge of your situation, it sucks, I know. Stay as calm as you can, call and get the info when you are able, and don't write down your plans or leave the phone, etc. unlocked where he can see them. Best of luck to you, hope it works out for you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:17 AM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

You are being abused. He has been abusing you all along. There is no "up to now", the entire relationship is predicated on abuse, from the beginning.

I personally don't think it's safe for you to go home today, and I think you should find somewhere to stay for a few weeks until you can get all the legal wheels turning to get him out of your house. You may not feel that you can do that and that you're going to have to fake it for a while but he's already waking you up to torture you in the middle of the night, you're not safe. You are not safe.

This person is not following any kind of rational, excusable line of logic here. This person believes he owns you and has all rights to you, and that is why you are not safe.

Fuck the mortgage, you can't pay it if you're dead, either. You're going to be mopping up from this for a while, financially, but you'll be alive and recovering.

Please call or text a trusted friend or family member right now and tell them what is going on. Please reach out to a local domestic violence organization (they'll know the local legwork that needs to be done to get free of him) as soon as you can step away from your desk for a few minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

Also, about the sleep thing and the fighting? Consider asking a friend or finding an Airbnb or a motel or something just in case. The very next time he tried this shit, call a cab or get in your car and drive away. Spend the night sweetly and safely away from home and get a decent night’s sleep before you go to work. Repeat as needed but only if it feels safe.

I just don’t want you to lose your job before you’re able to break up with this guy. I was once more or less held hostage by a loved one who kept me awake half the night every night in a similar fashion. I know that for many of us sleep is the number one indicator of our quality-of-life. Given the conditions you have, it is especially important that you get enough sleep in order simply to function as well as to make good decisions.

If I lived in your neighborhood, I swear I would come and keep you company. Hang in there.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:25 AM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

I’m glad you were able to ask this question because it’s clear that you are very far down the rabbit hole here. You’re starting to doubt your judgment, the validity of your feelings, and your self-worth.

Your question shows that all three of these are operating just fine. You need to get clear of this mess, but it’s clear you have the tools to do it.

I won’t reiterate other’s advice on how to proceed, I just want you to know that you’ve got this.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:25 AM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

He picks these fights with me late at night, when I'm trying to go to sleep. The fights usually last 2-3 hours and disrupt my sleep. In the morning, I am depressed and barely functional. He feels guilty when he sees how upset he's made me and then for the next few days is very sweet and loving, until something else sets him off. He says he has no idea what triggers his anger.

This is absolutely false. He knows what triggers his anger, but it does not benefit him to change his behavior. He's abusing you. He's using the abuse and your mental state to control you. Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft is (appropriately) often cited as the resource to reframe men's behavior and to understand their abusive psychology. Lots of passages are online for reading, or you can dm for a PDF.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:33 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

he calls me a slut and a whore

posted by Twinge at 9:43 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

His behavior is only unpredictable to you. The cycles of cruelty and dehumanization followed by love bombing,the insistence that you should KNOW how to make it up to him, the way he only chased you when you showed you weren’t asking how hi when he told you to jump regardless of your original status, the deliberate use of sleep deprivation to break you down and risk your livelihood to make you more dependent on him-that is usually all very calculated. Nthing the please make sure you have a plan to get you away from him safely. Also, he’s lying to you-about who you are, your worth, and your character. Please don’t believe him. Wishing you peace, safety, and healing.
posted by jacy at 9:43 AM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

This is abuse. Unequivocally. I just left an abusive marriage shortly after buying a house. Your description of him and of your situation sounds terribly, terribly familiar. You deserve better, you can get out, and you can manage the house on your own. It will be very hard, and it will be worth it. You will be okay.

Some steps you can take:

1. Make sure your birth control is in order and is not a method he can tamper with.

2. Remove his access to everything--bank accounts, email, phone, etc.--before he has any idea you plan to leave. Be very fastidious about this. If he doesn't have the password to an account, does he have access to the recovery method? He'll use it.

3. Keep any essentials (e.g., your identification and credit cards, a few days' worth of any medications, etc.) somewhere he can't access them.

4. Visit your local domestic violence shelter for safety planning. They should be able to help with the following or refer you to other community resources where you can get help:
a. What to document (his words, his actions, the condition of the house, etc.) and how to do it without him catching it.
b. Benefits, drawbacks, and processes for protective (restraining) orders and other options.
c. How to get low cost legal aid to get him out of the house you just bought.
d. How to stay safe if you choose to stay in the house.
e. When and how to leave.
f. Where to stay if you have to leave your house for a while.
g. How to communicate with your workplace, family, etc. about your situation.
h. Where to get counseling or other psychological support. Leaving is hard, and it's okay to need help making that decision and sticking with it.

Deciding to leave was the hardest part, and I have felt a bit stronger and a bit better about the decision every single day since I walked away. I hope you will, too. Good luck.
posted by xylothek at 9:47 AM on September 30, 2019 [21 favorites]

Nthing that this is appalling abuse. Nobody deserves to live in this kind of hell, I cannot emphasise enough how utterly abnormal this is as a way of life. Which is not to shame you - you are the victim, and it is absolutely not your fault. But you have power - you had the power to recognise that this was abuse, and to come here asking for support. You've already made a start.

The MeFi There is Help Wiki has a range of links to resources for people in abusive relationships. If you scroll further down you can also see other Ask questions and other reading, in case those help.
posted by penguin pie at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes, you should leave him. Yes, he’s abusive. You deserve a boyfriend who doesn’t call you a whore. (Even if you had cheated on him (which you didn’t) that’s still out of line.)

Because he may have tenant rights at your house, you might not be able to just throw him out. That will vary based on your city/state laws. I’m not sure what to advise for the month or two it might take to get him out of your house. In your shoes, I’d want to find somewhere else to stay, but I wouldn’t want to abandon my new house to whatever he did to it while pissed off.

Do you have pets? Make sure they’re safe before you do anything; he sounds like the kind of person who might harm them for spite.
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:19 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture that's often used in wartime. It's considered a human rights violation and your abuser is using it on a small scale to enhance his power by preventing you from being able to think straight.

This Ask Polly question about the hall of mirrors and the nowhere man might give you some insight about your relationship dynamic with this abuser.

"I bought a house and we moved in together".... so he's living for free in your house? Lucky guy to be able to freeload off you. He threatens to leave but why would he? He didn't buy a house, where on earth would he go? You might not be able to keep the house. But you'll be better of with no house if it also means no him.

He calls you a slut and a fuckdoll? Nobody I have ever dated has or would EVER call me those words, nor any other if they clearly hurt my feelings. This is brutal abuse. You shoving him is just a reaction to the truckloads of abuse he uses to goad you into losing control so he can lord it over you. Don't feel guilty about that.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:44 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I mean, everyone has already made the valid points, but if it helps even a tiny bit to have yet another random Internet person weigh in:


You are a worthwhile person and you deserve to be treated with love and respect by your partner. This guy, I guarantee it, does not even register you as a human being.
posted by praemunire at 10:49 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I just looked back at your previous question - oh Lord, he’s that guy? Even for a website that loves to tell people to DTMFA, I’ve rarely seen a thread with such an overwhelming onslaught of people saying he was bad news and would get worse. He’s got worse. I’m so glad that this time around you see his behaviour is abusive rather than last time when he’d gaslit you into believing it was all your fault.

It’s still getting worse. It will not get better. Please follow your instinct and get advice on how to split safely out before it gets worse still.
posted by penguin pie at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I usually don't respond to these just to nth the sentiment, but this is severe. This is unimaginable abuse, and you absolutely deserve to leave this hellscape of a relationship and start to heal. You deserve none of this. Please, please, please get out. This is shocking and upsetting, and I wonder if you're thinking "it can't be that bad" because it's too painful to consider that it is. Ask yourself this? Do you have people you can get support from at the moment?
posted by namesarehard at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I also still love him, even though I know that's embarrassing, and I don't want to lose him. Up until this, he's always been such a good presence in my life and the thought of never seeing him again makes me unable to breathe.

I think you're getting a lot of great advice above, but I want you to know that it's okay that you love him, that that doesn't mean you need to stay with him, and it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. Please don't feel ashamed for loving him. A lot of strong women have been abused, and it doesn't mean you are not a strong woman.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:56 AM on September 30, 2019 [24 favorites]

In your previous question about this terrible, and yes, abusive, gaslighting person, he tried to sabotage you at your old job. Now he's trying a similar gambit, with even more riding on it from his perspective of trying to control you: while you've been underemployed, you've been dependent on his financial support in your new home. That's been to his advantage, and it's part of why he's stuck to his every-ten-days warfare schedule -- keeping you exhausted, frightened, and focused on your relationship and supposed wrongdoing benefits him greatly.

You mentioned that you kept your social circles separate during the 8-10 years you were FWB; please, reach out to those friends now. Check your local jurisdiction and domestic violence resources for guidance on getting him out of your house legally and safely. Do your best to avoid being alone with him; I think your new job will require unexpected overtime in these next few weeks. Put the word out to your networks that you'll need a roommate soon.

Don't worry about the house and yard maintenance right now. Your new roommate may have those skills, you can hire people for tasks, and you can learn how to do some of the less-complicated upkeep yourself via YouTube tutorials and other online sources (like this site). Please know that your soon-to-be-ex is not your sole source of assistance in this matter, either. I agree with bluedaisy that it is okay that you loved him, and that you still do. What you're going through is very, very hard. I do take exception to "Up until this, he's always been such a good presence in my life..." -- he strung you along for years because it suited him, he pursued you seriously when it suited him, and he's treated you miserably in the year since he 'won' you as it suits him.

You also said in the previous Ask that you were in therapy. I hope you're still seeing someone in that capacity, and can schedule additional appointments during this period. And again, don't be afraid to rely on your friends. You would want to help them if they were in similar straits.

Good luck at your new job. Tie this fresh start in your professional life to a fresh start overall.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:23 AM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yes, this is abuse. You sound like a lovely, sensitive person who knows how to be a good partner to a good person. And you will get there one day, but right now, you have to be a good partner to yourself ONLY. You must. Your life depends on it.

Get your plan in place (based on excellent advice above) and then just start moving one foot in front of the other. That's it. That feeling that you can't breathe if you won't see him--that's okay. The feeling will pass, you will continue breathing, and you will keep putting one foot in front of the other. The fear that you can't pay your bills, your mortgage? Also okay. But keep putting one foot in front of the other. The guilt that he will heap on you, that you will heap on yourself? Again, say hello, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You still love him? Of course you do. You are a human. Accept that we are complicated beings who sometimes do not act in our own best interests, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. And know that you'll have to do this for awhile because what you are doing is rebuilding your life, and rebuilding yourself. This might not be clear now, but it will make more sense in 1, 2, 5 years. There will come a time when you will go back and read these questions and feel so sad for yourself, and then pride for how you reached out and took care of yourself.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 11:40 AM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

He berates me .. constantly... He threatens to leave me, he calls me a slut and a whore, he makes me constantly repeat over and over again the information he got via invading my privacy about what I did sexually.. fairly traumatic for me .. says things like "You were my fuckdoll and now you are someone else's and it will never be just us." (the word fuckdoll actually makes me vomit a bit in my throat when I hear it, it's so dehumanizing.) He yells he rages he screams, .. says I need to make it up to him by being the perfect girlfriend... He picks these fights with me late at night.. I am depressed and barely functional. .. He says he has no idea what triggers his anger.

I need to break up with him, right?
Yes. This is abuse, right? Right. This is unambiguously abuse, very unhealthy, and the relationship is not resolve-able.

As xylothek and others have recommended, you need a plan and the family violence shelter in your area can help you. You may need help to get him out of the house. A roommate can help with the mortgage, as well as companionship. You deserve a healthy relationship with mutual respect, you do not deserve this abuse. Don't wait, this has to stop.
posted by theora55 at 11:43 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

This is your house and you have the right to kick him out at any time. The thing with this kind of person is that they are skilled manipulators who make you feel guilty. It took multiple friends and family members intervening for me to finally gather the strength to kick him out. It took my parents coming to help me physically move the items after he was dragging his feet; they also called a locksmith to come change the locks for me, and that was a good step for my own sanity. It took me a long time to break up but I finally was able to! He landed on his feet right away: getting bs sympathy from others who gave him a car (!!), brought him soup, etc. He will be fine so no need to feel guilty.

Likewise, please don't be mad at yourself for this. You were in a rough time and he took advantage of this. I know what it's like to be in that cycle but you've breaking it right now. You've got this!!
posted by smorgasbord at 11:47 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Right, you absolutely do need to break up. And the way to do it is to choose the best among the many excellent suggestions supporters on Metafilter are giving you and act on them. You had 119 similar Comments on your last question. The Comments right now are adding up. It would be helpful to see a therapist to help you figure out why you didn't end things after you posted earlier.

In the meantime, take some of the initial steps right away. Consider making your question anonymous and changing passwords on bank accounts and other internet sites. Prepare a script for the next time this man says he's going to leave you, then take him up on it. Don't give an inch if he says he didn't really mean it. That could be your "out."

Just want to throw one practical tip if the financial side of things is holding you back. If you live near an area where tourists or business people visit--consider renting an airbnb room in your house if you're not happy living alone. Maybe down the road, consider selling the house and buying a condo where the maintenance isn't all on you and you have neighbors around you.
posted by Elsie at 12:06 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

He berates me about this constantly. Every ten days or so. He threatens to leave me, he calls me a slut and a whore, he makes me constantly repeat over and over again the information he got via invading my privacy about what I did sexually with this other guy. The other guy was an alcoholic mess and treated me poorly so reliving all of this stuff is actually fairly traumatic for me (I have bipolar and CPTSD). He says things like "You were my fuckdoll and now you are someone else's and it will never be just us."

This is absolutely abuse. His fuckdoll? Spew. He is disgusting.
Calling you a slut and whore? Constantly berating you and making you retell stuff you don't want to talk about? Abuse.

"He feels guilty when he sees how upset he's made me and then for the next few days is very sweet and loving, until something else sets him off." Classic abuse pattern.

Not to mention the shoving.

Bare minimum for a healthy relationship is NOT being denigrated or shamed and NOT having someone put their hands on you in this way.

Please, please get out of this relationship. This man is despicable and you deserve much, much better.
posted by thereader at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2019

I agree with all the others that this is abusive behavior. It's very good that you're able to see that now before you get in even deeper. I was in a situation like this for 3 years and didn't even recognize it as abuse until I was out for about a year. The effects were so insidious. My self esteem had plummeted from all of that time with him.

It's going to feel hard when you leave, but you're so much stronger than you think you are. You seem like a kind, thoughtful person and you deserve someone who will treat you well.

P.S. If this is all happening only a year in, imagine how much worse it would get if you stayed.
posted by koolaidnovel at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2019

Yes this is abuse, you've provided a textbook description of the cycle of abuse.

Please make a plan to keep yourself safe, access abused woman resources, talk to the police, let your friends and family know you need support. James sounded pretty awful in your last question, now he sounds completely awful. Also note that he became more abusive when you moved in together (from the sound of it) - he's going to continue the abuse and get worse and worse. If the house is in your name and you haven't been living together for very long you may have an easier time getting him out - I hope you do.
posted by lafemma at 12:28 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

He feels guilty when he sees how upset he's made me and then for the next few days is very sweet and loving, until something else sets him off. He says he has no idea what triggers his anger.

If you're like me, and research helps you understand your feelings, I would recommend this book:
Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft

If you decide to get this book, please be sure he cannot see that you've bought it; I don't want that to become another topic for abusing you.

The level of concern in this thread might be surprising to you, but as someone who has been through this too, I don't think it's at all excessive. This sounds like a very dangerous person and I am afraid for you. I also want to tell you that it may be so hard you don't know how you'll make it through, but you CAN, and life can be SO MUCH BETTER than you can even imagine right now.

I'm so sorry. He's stolen a year plus of your emotions and your finances, and I don't want him to take your life as well. Please, please be safe.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:58 PM on September 30, 2019

I wish i wasn't serious, but if you feel you are safer waiting a little to GTFO, make sure your birth control including emergency options are safe. "Oops pregnancy" is a real form of abuse following work sabotage.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:13 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

Hi. I work for an advocacy center for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. This is domestic abuse.

Let me introduce you to the Power and Control Wheel. Sound familiar? Great. I mean, not great, but the shock of recognition may help. You will need a safety plan to end this relationship. You may have to leave your house for a while. Your local domestic violence organization can help you with all of this. They can also sit down and listen to you, offer emotional support and help you find resources to afford your mortgage alone, get him out of your house and so on. This website has a database of advocacy centers listed by location. So does this one. Your state will most definitely have one as well and chances are there is one in your county. It's free. It's confidential. And they can help you figure out what you need to do and how to do it. And hey, you know what? You're awesome for asking this, you're strong for standing up for yourself and sometimes it takes a long time to get fully free - and that's okay. You can do this and there are people to help you get there.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:32 PM on September 30, 2019 [17 favorites]

The main conflict is that he feels that me dating someone else without telling him was a massive betrayal, tantamount to cheating in him - even though we were not in a relationship while I was seeing the other guy.

Nope, that's what he's decided to set out his shingle on, but if you hadn't given him that handy excuse, he would just have found another. Maybe your housekeeping isn't up to scratch, or you look fat, or he hates the way your family disrespect him. Whatever, abusive men always have some minor issue that they blow up into this massive deal because they need some kind of peg to hang their abuse on, and constant repetition makes you believe them. I bet the first time he brought this up he wasn't ranting and raving and calling you a fuckdoll was he? Because you'd have told him to fuck off. He's had to ramp up slowly.
posted by tinkletown at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

And having read your previous question - he's jealous of your success, tried to wreck your fundraiser because you texted him to tell him how great it was going (remember he only turned up after you told him it was going great), and now is trying to get you fired from your new job. You knew he was going to do it, and he did. If you created a fictitious important presentation next Tuesday, he'd 100% start a row on Monday night as well.

Did he by any chance have any input into you leaving your last job and being unemployed for so long? I would lay $50 that he did, even if just by keeping you up at night before important events so you underperform.

I'd also lay another $50 that if you tell him how great this new job is going, he'll escalate into IDK, turning up at the office? Calling your male colleagues in a fit of jealousy? "Accidentally" smashing your work laptop or spilling something on it in a fight? Who knows. But he clearly doesn't like to see you doing well, because you are harder to control if you feel confident and have financial means.
posted by tinkletown at 2:15 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Along with all the other things you should do as soon as safely possible: If you are not currently in therapy, are you able to reach out to your most recent therapist? (Obviously if you ARE in therapy, you need to tell them about this.) This man is deliberately triggering you as a means of control and manipulation, keeping you tired and confused, in a state of fight-flight-fawn-freeze. That's why this happens every ten days or so, that's why he's "so sorry" in between; it's not just for gaslighting purposes, it's because the abuse is more effective if it's not constant.

If you're not in touch with a therapist but do have a prescribing physician you are regularly in touch with, please reach out to them as well. I know some psychiatrists and other physicians are not always especially helpful or their offices are too harried and chaotic to get someone to spend a few minutes helping you obtain resources, but you won't know if you don't ask. There are sometimes doors that open faster when a doctor can say, "this is my patient, she needs X assistance."

But at the very least, you're currently in a hugely stressful situation and being in close communication with your care team is an important component in your support system.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:37 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes this is definitely a very serious case of an abusive relationship. But I also feel worried about how you may be feeling right now, reading this wall of people emphatically telling you that you are in danger. Domestic abuse is the classic example of the boiling a frog slowly analogy. The whole point of relationship abuse is to completely undermine your sense of what's normal and acceptable, until you have zero confidence in your ability to tell whats acceptable from whats not. It take a lot of time and effort to get someone to the point where they think it's ok to be called a whore by their partner. The fact you've been able to take the step to ask someone about it (even strangers on the internet) is enormous. Be proud of yourself for taking this one step. Its your first step towards freedom.

The next bit will be hard. Eventually it will be great! But at first it's going to be difficult and I really really want to add to everyone above saying that you need to be very careful about how you leave (and you MUST leave). Abusive men like this one are at their most deadly when they realize you might get away. Please please tell some people you trust what is happening, talk to a domestic violence organization, and honestly I would also suggest calling the police to give them a heads up and potentially ask them to give you a case number you can call if you realize you are in immediate danger (i.e., if/when he shows up at your house or work). I don't know where you live, but even if the police in your state are not the best at dealing with this kind of thing, or you have reason to fear the police on most normal occasions, please think about proactively calling them anyway. You never know, they may be better than you think. In the UK at least domestic violence and coercive control are being taken much more seriously these days. I hope that is the case for you too where you live.

Also, you might find it useful to go make a thread on the relationship forum in "Mumsnet". (Don't be put off by the hame; it's not just for parents.) There are many many threads on there, where kind and knowledgable internet strangers help support each other through exactly the kind of situation you are in. If you need someone to (virtually) hold you hand at any time of the day or night while escaping an abusive relationship, that's a good place to go.
posted by EllaEm at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thank you all for your kindness and support. I have been checking in on this thread all day when I was able to take breaks and it's been enormously heartening to see all of these comments.

I'm crying right now because I know what I have to do but I still love him and I don't want to lose him. I am beginning to understand that I probably never knew him at all - when we were FWB he never behaved in such an ugly way towards me (he certainly never called me his fuckdoll then) and I keep thinking that maybe he's depressed, maybe he needs to seek therapy, maybe he needs to process and accept that he feels bad for stringing me on for so many years and that's why he lashes out, like it's projection and at some point he'll see it and he'll snap out of it. But he won't. We tried couples counseling and he hated it, he sought individual therapy and he hated it, he doesn't think he did anything wrong, he thinks I'm the one who ruined everything by seeing that other guy.

He had me convinced that I DID cheat on him. My wonderful therapist has been gently calling BS on that and intellectually I agree with that but there is some part of me that thinks if I had only spoken up first, before I started dating that other guy, and told him how I felt, this would all be different. I wish I had never taken up with that other guy, thinking about it makes me sick.

I don't understand why this happened. Is it really all because of that other guy? Why can't he see this from my perspective? He knows I have bipolar and CPTSD. His behavior has made my CPTSD worse and he doesn't understand that. He thinks I should be able to shake myself off today and get through my first day of work completely unhindered by the fight last night and the lack of sleep, even though he knows very well that I am not resilient in that way. I don't even know if he likes me at this point; let alone love.

I just don't understand how this happened, or why. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Why can't I make him stop? Why doesn't he care that he's harming me?

My therapist was in communication with our couples counselor when we were still doing couples counseling. Since we stopped the couples work, my therapist has told me point blank that our couples counselor thought he was delusional and narcissistic. My therapist has been saying he's an abuser for months. Intellectually I know this is true but I just can't stop crying now, I still love him and I want to fix this even though I know I can't.

I have been trying to think of someone I could call to maybe come sit with me or stay with me for a while after I ask him to leave. I don't even necessarily want to talk about him, I just would like to have someone sit with me and eat ice cream and watch The Crown and let me get used to being alone again.

He told me in the beginning that he wanted to take care of me, that he's always loved me, that I would never be lonely anymore. Less than a month after that, the incident at my fundraiser (covered in my previous question about him) happened. Two weeks after that he broke into my phone and email, found out details about the other guy that I had texted and emailed my best friend about (he even knew to search specifically for threads with her name, even though he's never met her), and it's been like this ever since.

What did I do wrong? Why can't I fix this? I was so happy in the beginning. I didn't even get a whole month to be uncomplicatedly happy. Why did he look in my phone? Do I really have no right to keep these things secret? Why is it any of his business what I did sexually with the other guy? Why is he doing this? He is choosing to look at this in the worst possible light, like I did it to punish him. I just was trying to find a relationship with someone who was looking for the same, I didn't know that guy would turn out to be a trainwreck.

He says that by being with the other guy who treated me badly I had no respect for him and no respect for myself and he doesn't understand why I never came to him first. I didn't think he loved me! He kept me at arm's length!

What did I do wrong? Why is this happening? I am on the train home now from work and I cannot stop crying.
posted by buckminsterfullerene at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2019

Hey there. I just want to pop in here to say that you've gotten excellent advice here, and also this: you didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything to deserve this or make this happen. Your boyfriend is a person who doesn't participate in relationships in good faith -- this is not how a loving relationship should feel, ever. This is not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong. I am almost crying myself, standing in my kitchen, thinking about you and wishing you the safest and best exit from this relationship. I was in an abusive friendship for 8 years and it took them threatening my life for me to realize what had been happening for years, a constant slow process of eroding my boundaries and sense of self until I didn't know what was normal anymore. I know it feels like you must have done something to make this happen but you didn't, this is his fault and his terrible choices on how to behave in your relationship. You don't deserve this, friend. You didn't do anything wrong.

Please take the advice given to you and reach out to a domestic violence support organization to have an advocate help you make a safety plan for how to safely escape from this situation. I will be thinking about you and sending energies of strength and healing and power to you.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 3:40 PM on September 30, 2019 [23 favorites]

I just don't understand how this happened, or why. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Why can't I make him stop? Why doesn't he care that he's harming me?

An excellent response from Captain Awkward, filed under abuse:

Dear What’s Wrong With Me?
What if nothing is wrong with you and the problem is you’re married to an asshole?

Over and over and over again, people (often women) turn themselves inside out trying to please other people (often men) and believe somehow they did something wrong. Often, they did not. That particular letter and Captain Awkward's response is well worth reading. It is sad that things have not worked out as you hoped. That does not mean that you did anything wrong.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:43 PM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

You don't have to understand what happened to do what you need to do. I know it can feel that way! Wanting to understand caused me to delay an (in hindsight) inevitable and necessary divorce; the dragging-it-out only made it worse in the end and I wish I'd bailed faster. (My situation was nowhere near as serious as yours, but even so.)

As another commenter said, one. foot. in. front. of. the. other. Understanding can wait. Making yourself safe can't.

Please take the excellent advice from other commenters.
posted by humbug at 3:46 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

He says that by being with the other guy who treated me badly I had no respect for him and no respect for myself and he doesn't understand why I never came to him first. I didn't think he loved me! He kept me at arm's length!

I will step out of this thread now, but please: Reread what you have written. You are trying desperately to make what he said in the past make sense. It never made sense. Not then and not now.

You may need some time to prepare to leave this guy safely. In the meantime, keep this in mind: The words do not matter. The only thing that matters is his behavior. That sound you hear? Those words? They are all about abuse and manipulation. They aren't meant to be rational and never will be. I am so, so sorry but that is how it is. You cannot trust a single syllable out of that guy's mouth; you never could. You had no way of knowing that in the beginning. It is not your fault.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

You didn’t do anything wrong.
posted by penguin pie at 3:54 PM on September 30, 2019 [13 favorites]

Oh my dear, this breaks my heart. You are not a mind reader. No one is. There is this thing called consent. It is important. If this fucker never ever saw or slept with anyone during your FWB thing that was his choice (and also? He is probably lying).

You cannot cheat on anyone without an agreement. You had no agreement. No one could have known that he "loved" you because he never said a word to you. There is literally zero evidence that what he claims is true. Even if he did love you, he did not use his words like a grown up. Even if he had said something, you would have had to agree to be exclusive with him.

You did not cheat on that guy. It literally was not possible for you to do so based on the situation. That he decided in his mind that he had a thing for you does not make any part of this abuser's story true. Best of luck, hang in there, I'm going to go watch kitten videos in your honour because this is super intense just reading about it. Sending you all the virtual hugs you want.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:56 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

What did I do wrong? Why is this happening?

Once you are safely outside of this relationship you will have the distance and perspective you need to answer questions like these for yourself, but as others are pointing out, the answer to the first question is nothing, nothing at all, you did not do anything wrong.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:58 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

I am so sorry. You did not do anything wrong. He is abusive and your big priority right now is to exit the relationship safely. Please get in touch with a domestic violence support group/women's shelter! They can walk you through the steps you need to take. And please lean on friends and family right now if you are able to. I would help a friend in your situation in a minute, no questions asked.

I don't know where you live, so I have no idea if this is relevant to you. However, some countries are starting to have laws giving (paid and unpaid) leave for people experiencing domestic violence. You can look into this and see if there might be something available for you, to help you get your logistics sorted out.

Good luck and I hope you get some support to help you out of this situation NOT of your making.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:06 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

my therapist has told me point blank that our couples counselor thought he was delusional and narcissistic. My therapist has been saying he's an abuser for months. Intellectually I know this is true but I just can't stop crying now, I still love him and I want to fix this even though I know I can't.

You can't fix other people. Some people are broken in ways what are beyond a normal person's comprehension. I have dealt with this in several relationships, in different areas of my life. I read "Codependent No More", and the BPD/walking on eggshells book, (exact name escapes me), and both helped me to understand that I can only do so much, and I can only take on so much of an emotional load.

I hope you can get through this peacefully as possible. It will be hard, but you can do it.
posted by kellyblah at 4:08 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't understand why this happened.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you are already hurt and being hurt more.

God I wish I had gotten that into my thick skull instead of sticking around for years trying to solve the mystery. Hopefully you’re less obsessive than I am.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:12 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Everyone is telling you that you did nothing wrong. Please listen to them. Collectively, we have SO much experience with abusive relationships here. What you’re feeling is normal, and that’s what makes it so hard.

I want to mention something that might come up later. It’s possible that, once you’ve broken up with him and have been free for awhile, you might look back at the time you spent with him and get mad at yourself for not leaving sooner. You might blame yourself for not seeing all the red flags that will become more apparent with hindsight and some breathing room. Please don’t.

Forgiving myself for not leaving sooner was one of the hardest things to get over. It took a long time for me to not blame younger weeping_angel for not knowing what older weeping_angel knew. I finally realized that that wasn't being fair to younger me. I wouldn’t blame a friend for not knowing about something that they’ve never dealt with, so why was I blaming myself?
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

And the answer to most of your questions is that there’s something broken in him. It was broken before you met him; he just hid it better. You can’t fix it. You never could. You can only protect yourself.
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:50 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's so hard to understand the why when you're in the middle of it. You've so used to the gaslighting and manipulation that you lose sense of what's right and wrong. Your gut tells you that there's something wrong but your heart -- and, moreover, he -- is telling you otherwise. I had an ex who blamed me for "cheating" on her even before we had met, and crazy shit like that. But I was so brainwashed that I could not think clearly. Now it all makes sense to me. It also is understandable and ok to love someone who is abusive towards you: think of children who are being abused but cannot escape? The love and hope helps them survive. As adults, the same thing can happen to us, especially if we've been primed in our childhood. I have PTSD and know that I am so often targeted for abuse or maltreatment by partners. Fortunately, I have started to break that cycle thanks to incredible therapy, life changes, and a small dose of medication every day. You are already taking great steps to make your life better and it'll keep getting better when he's out of it!

Lean on others right now as much as needed: chances are they hate how he's been treating you. Even if they don't know what he's doing, they can see you're unhappy or on edge and will likely be so relieved you're ready to move on.

I know you're at a new job -- which is awesome -- and it sounds like you're managing everything great!! We can do a lot on a little sleep and upset nerves: for me, add some coffee, Diet Coke, and sweets to the mix and I'm good to go for awhile! If someone sees you cry and seems curious, you can always say "Sorry to bother you. My boyfriend and I just broke up." Pretty much everyone can relate to that and is sympathetic without prying for more. You never have to share stuff but sometimes a little goes a long way, you know?

You've got this!!! You are an amazing person who has faced great adversity but is thriving. In a way -- however shitty, this guy was part of your journey of healing. And you can keep healing once he's no longer your boyfriend or in your house. As others have said, it doesn't have to make sense right now because that's hard when you're in the middle of it. Please trust us and your gut. You have the strength and power to do this!! If you need to just go home and sleep today and deal with this tomorrow, that is fine. If you want to start taking action, that's fine, too. We are here to support you, to be that collective strength as you find your own. Lots of love to you!!!
posted by smorgasbord at 4:53 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

No abuser goes into a relationship saying, "I'm going to be nice for a few months, but after that I'm going to make your life a living hell and completely destroy your self-esteem and ability to trust yourself." How could you possibly be responsible for knowing this ahead of time. You did nothing wrong!

No person who genuinely wants to make a relationship work refuses to engage in therapy either individually or as a couple. You did nothing wrong!

Your desire to give someone the benefit of the doubt, give love, and do what it takes to try and make a relationship work is doing everything right. If asshole takes advantage of that that because they are an asshole and an abuser. You did nothing wrong.
posted by brookeb at 5:05 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Please consider telling a friend or several friends about what is happening. It might feel like they don’t want to hear about your problems, it might feel embarrassing to talk about it, but I promise that your friends will want to help you. They will be glad to listen. And the more you talk about it, the easier it will be to get distance from his manipulation and start to trust yourself.
posted by mai at 5:40 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Listen, here's the truth: you cannot please someone who doesn't want to be pleased. You can't make this relationship work when he doesn't want to make it work. He is berating you over something in the past that you canmot change, that happened even before you became a couple. He is setting you up for failure.

As for whether you love him - you love an image of him that he projected when it suited him. The fact that he didn't call you demeaning names with you were FWB but began doing that after you became exclusive says a lot about how he can actually control his behaviour, but chose not to once he felt safe that you were his.

Nthing the posts above that say get someone, anyone to be with you right now. Tell someone. Rally all your friends and resources. You can get through this, but you need to start. We're here to walk you through this, but you need to start.
posted by satoshi at 5:42 PM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

What did I do wrong? Why can't I fix this? I was so happy in the beginning.

Well, I can say from my experience in a 9-year relationship with an abusive guy: you really didn't do anything wrong. Mine was depressed too, or acted depressed to manipulate me to make me feel sorry for him. And when we started living together, it just got so much worse, so much worse, dude. Like night and day worse. He was a jerk to the nth degree once we were living together.

It's like being a deer in the headlights, isn't it? The shock, the why, why is this happening, why is he all of a sudden being like this, what can I do to make it better? That's normal. I felt the same way.

One time, after we'd gotten back together, a strange woman knocked on the door. He'd been dating her for a little while during a break-up. She told an eerily familiar story: he'd told her how much he liked her, charmed her, had sex with her, watched her cat while she was on vacation, took her to dinner, all that stuff. Then, all of a sudden, he dropped her like a hot potato, which is I guess when we got back together. She couldn't figure it out. I mean, I was weirded out, but there she was, another woman who had experienced him and his abuse, right there on my front porch.

Pretty sure during one of our break-ups, he grilled me about whether or not I'd been with another guy during that 3-month period. I may have said yes, and think he went nuts, tho' he'd been with more than one woman during that time. That didn't count, see, because I was his property, his object, and I wasn't allowed to have a life of my own outside of his world view.

Then I actually married the guy, and then it got SO much worse. OMG. He was flirting with other women, telling me I was too fat (I was not, I was hot back then, but that was just putting me down again). He threatened to beat me up over a $30 grocery bill. Told another woman that we were swingers and I wanted a threesome, brought her over to the house on a night I was hosting an open house for Christmas, thinking I would what? Just agree to his fantasy? I was blindsided.

A few days later, I was so ticked off. I lit a cigarette indoors. He hated me smoking, and I usually went outside. But it was 5 degrees out, he was in bed, and I was like, fuck it, I'm having a smoke in my office room.

Well, he woke up and smelled it, and jumped out of bed, rushed down the hallway, and slapped me, then shoved me while I was sitting, and I went ass over tea kettle, right upside down onto my noggin', and I was like, wtf? I grabbed the phone and dialed 911, and said, "Help!" Then he yanked the phone out of the wall, and I sat on the floor, huddled and trying to make myself small, while he yelled, "You bitch! You deserved it, you bitch! Sure, sit still now, where are the car keys, bitch?!"

Then he grabbed my purse and dumped it onto the bed in the other room. I said, "I'll get them for you," and walked back down the hall, thru my office room and into the foyer and out the front door, onto the porch. Four big cops were storming up the steps. They quickly separated us in different rooms and talked to us separately.

The cops couldn't believe he'd done that over me lighting a smoke. The one cop put on a glove and asked if he could feel my goose egg, which was quite large. They didn't believe his version, which was that I'd screamed at him (not a crime, btw, but he was in bed, so wtf?), and took him away to jail, because hell-to-the-yes I wanted to press charges.

I even felt bad, and got his hat and gloves from the closet so he wouldn't be cold. Then I went in the bedroom and called a friend, who stayed on the phone with me until 3:00 a.m. while I calmed down. That shit stays with you a long time, dude.

I ended up leaving, as it was a house we were renting from his parents. The 3 days he was in jail, I got a restraining order, and got my personal stuff out, and went to stay with a friend. Then I took a bus to my folks' house in another state. It was not a fun time.

Listen, I don't wish this on anyone. It's hard, I know. You just want to fix it, find a solution, make it better, turn back time and live like it was before. It's like someone dying, you can't accept it, only they're still there, and the person you knew has "died" and has been replaced with this monster. Give yourself time to grieve. Hopefully safely away from him, whether he leaves or you go stay with someone temporarily while you figure out what to do. Whatever you decide to do is okay, it's your choice. No one can make you do anything. No one could make me do anything, it was brought upon me by me lighting a smoke, and I guess it just would have been more torture if I hadn't defied him and did that. I mean, a normal person would say, "hey, I don't like that, take it outside," but they wouldn't slap you and shove you upside down where you could've had your neck broken and stuff. That was very painful to learn, that he had that in him, and it was just waiting to burst out. He'd slapped me before, once, and sure, he'd threatened to beat me up, but I didn't think he was serious. So painful. Emotionally. I know.

Think of it as he is a mentally unstable person who is not safe for you to be around. Or a dog who was never trained and could snap at you and bite you at any time. Sure, you can feel sorry for him, but would you pet a dog that might bite your hand off? You can't fix that. You just have to grieve, and stay away from the dog to save yourself, dude.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:47 PM on September 30, 2019 [29 favorites]

You didn't do anything wrong.

Abusive men like this have willingly sacrificed their humanity to toxic masculinity. There's nothing left in there. Even apparent kindness is just a tool to keep you close so they can hurt you. There is no helping them, there is no fixing them, there is no saving them. They are monsters who will go through life destroying women until something happens to take away their strength to do so. Sometimes that's old age, sometimes it's something more direct, but they never get better, they only get stopped. Save yourself while you can.
posted by praemunire at 6:17 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

Why is he doing this? Because he can.

It is his way, his path, his habit, his pattern. You have intersected it and are deeply affected by it but it has nothing to do with you: you are an excuse, not a cause.

You are not special; you were next. That is perhaps the worst part to know, but also, I can hope, the most freeing.

I'm sorry. I wish you strength. You can get out of this and you will.
posted by inexorably_forward at 7:24 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

You can't fix him.

He won't snap out of this.

You did nothing wrong.

When someone is this psychotic and abusive, the only answer is to get out and protect yourself by any means necessary.

There is an extremely good chance he will escalate and get physically abusive if he hasn't already.

He is extraordinary verbally abusive and manipulative. It's not your fault that you love him, but that absolutely does not mean you need to stay with him. You have to protect yourself. His behavior will not get better. It will get worse.

You deserve better.

You have the strength to get out, but he will try to pull you back. There is no negotiating or middle ground or compromising on this. If you give him an inch, he will continue to ruin your life.

I'm not being the least bit dramatic when I say that I'm worried for your life and physical safety. I know a dozen women who were hospitalized in such situations, because there partner beat them half to death or stabbed them or strangled them.

Unfortunately, I'm worried he's nearly at that level.

Protect yourself. You're worth it. If you're confused about anything, look back at this thread where 60-odd people (so far) have unambiguously and unanimously told you, that this guy is extremely bad news and you will never have a good life with him.

I'm sorry you're in this situation, but you do need to get out of it.
posted by Jacen at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I fear that by the time you're reading this, it is following another 4-hour fight, with you heading in to yet another day of work with little sleep and feeling a whirlwind of emotions. Relationships like this make life confusing and harder to hold together. I'm sorry you're dealing with it.

I don't understand why this happened. Is it really all because of that other guy? Why can't he see this from my perspective? ... Why doesn't he care that he's harming me? ... Why is he doing this?

These kind of questions are natural. Check out Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

But the real answers are: (1) The exact nature of his mental/emotional dysfunction doesn't matter, and (2) Because you keep allowing it. Don't get me wrong: it's not your fault, it's his fault. But the only person you can control is you. So I'd encourage you to take whatever action you can on your own to prevent him from abusing you further.

I understand being sad and wishing for a solution where he decides to start being nicer. But the truth is that the behaviors that are hurting you now will go on until you say "I am not allowing that anymore." It's as simple and as hard, painful, and potentially final as that. I say "final" because I suspect that as soon as you say "you can't treat me this way," instead of respecting that, he will storm away, and the relationship will self-destruct. I'm sorry. Your only hope for a mutually respectful relationship is to insist on it. But he may not be willing to give that to you. Calling the question is the fastest way to find out whether his answer will be yes or no.

I'd forgotten this was the guy from the fundraiser. My comment there applies just as much to your current fight. Something happened, he had bad feelings, he's making them your fault, he's making the situation a bigger deal over time instead of getting over it. It's probably (subconsciously) an excuse for getting to be angry at you -- if it weren't this thing, it'd probably be something else.

You'll see I wrote a second comment in that old thread about the cycle of abuse. That was nine months ago, and you're still going around and around that cycle. Every ten days or so, as you say. And in case it needs to be said again, this is abuse. You don't deserve this. It is not acceptable. It seems like you actually already know all of this, on some level.

You need to find the clarity to say, this is not a way I will allow you to treat me. And you need to find a tactic for enforcing that, like leaving the house. Knowledge only goes so far. If knowledge alone was enough to change lives, we'd all be super-fit because who doesn't know that exercise makes you healthier? But knowledge isn't enough; you have to awkwardly go on that first slow jog and gradually get stronger. Nobody gets fit without lacing up their running shoes. And similarly, knowing that he shouldn't treat you this way isn't enough -- you have to take action to say "I won't allow it".

Take some action, no matter how small. I wrote about that here. It took me a long time to gain the clarity and courage to say, I'm not going to put up with this, even starting with something small. But that action brought me to new levels of confidence and determination. And shortly after I started taking action to protect myself, he started treating me worse*, which was further across the line and more obviously abusive, so I rejected that behavior even more strongly. The relationship ended in a matter of days. (* Please do be careful in case he escalates from verbal to physical violence.)

Read the ending to this thread for inspiration. Also, you might check out my comments and the discussions here and here. Like this line: "It was kind of a mini-revelation to me to see how easy it was to pick up my wallet, turn the keys in the ignition, and drive..." Suppose the next time he picked a night-time fight with you, you said, "I need to sleep, and since you aren't willing to let me sleep, I'm going to a hotel." (Or shoot, sleep in your car.) You get to decide whether or not you have three hour fights at night, or whether you go to sleep. You just need a plan for how you're going to leave the house efficiently (a bag with a change of clothes?) and where you're going to go.

When this isn't sabotaging and undermining you, you will have more energy for dealing with all of the challenges in your life -- for getting a roommate, a second job, a maintenance person's help, whatever you need. You are clearly a powerhouse -- you got a new job and bought a home even with this guy pulling you down. You can do this! Don't let him sabotage your new job the way he messed with your old one.
posted by salvia at 1:26 AM on October 1, 2019 [8 favorites]

Lots of great (if awful) information in this thread. I would like to add:

You don’t control other people. That’s scary, but it’s part of your CPTSD that you are still trying to believe that somehow if you had said the right thing or worn the right socks, he would be different. This is your child-brain lying to you.

You say “how come I only got a few weeks?” Because that’s all this guy was capable of. That’s all. There is no meter in the sky doling our happiness. This guy is an abuser. He held it in check that long.

It’s tough but it sounds like you have a good therapy team. Engage it in helping you get out of this relationship. That’s your one priority.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:58 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's day 2 at my new job and I'm really not doing well. I feel worse than I did yesterday. I'm worried that I am making a bad first impression. I'm trying not to be quiet and low energy but it's taking every ounce of my strength not to cry.

It's a new job and I have never been in this situation before. Is it in any way wise to let my supervisor or HR know that I am in the process of leaving an abusive relationship so if I seem "off" that's why? Or do I keep my mouth shut?
posted by buckminsterfullerene at 6:16 AM on October 1, 2019

Some states have job protection laws for people dealing with domestic violence. This is another thing your local domestic violence agency can advise on. Contact them as soon as you possibly can. It is helpful not only for the services they provide but also because it begins to create a paper trail of your history as a survivor of domestic violence.

Employers vary in their policies and general humanity, especially during the probationary period (if your job has such a thing), but if you're already seriously worried about losing your job because of what they don't know you have very little to lose by telling your supervisor. Since you don't know them well yet, I would keep it as unemotional as possible and focus on the concrete ways that this may affect your work or that you may need information or support. For instance, while you would not typically take leave shortly after beginning a new job, you may need information about the process for requesting unpaid leave (assuming you haven't accrued paid leave yet) in order to visit the domestic violence agency and arrange for emergency shelter if needed. They don't need details on how it is affecting your emotional/mental state and performance; of course it is. If they respond positively and supportively to this concrete and reasonable request, then you know you're working in a supportive environment. If they don't, then you know you're working for an asshole, which is not the information you want but is information you will need as you plan your escape.

I had this conversation with my boss and I felt embarrassed and ashamed going in, but he was extremely supportive and I'm glad that I did it. Try to remember: No part of this situation is your fault, no more than if you had been diagnosed with a serious illness in between accepting and starting a new job and therefore needed to disclose it to your boss and seek accommodations. You're amazing--you landed a new job in the midst of an extremely difficult home situation, and you are doing your best to perform well at that job while also escaping domestic violence. If your new boss is a remotely decent human being, they should recognize your strength and grace under pressure.
posted by xylothek at 7:28 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I also think that you might want to tell them, but again, a domestic violence advocate at a local DV shelter or YWCA (If you're in the US) would be able to help you make a plan for that, too. Please call one today, even if you just find a private spot at lunch and call then. Still thinking about you -- I believe in you and you can do this.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 8:00 AM on October 1, 2019

Is it in any way wise to let my supervisor or HR know that I am in the process of leaving an abusive relationship so if I seem "off" that's why? Or do I keep my mouth shut?

Personally, I would not tell them. You could ask a separate question to get a wider set of perspectives on it. But I'd tell myself I didn't want to let "him" intrude here. They'll be amazed at your fast improvement when your focus and level of sleep returns in a couple days. :)
posted by salvia at 8:13 AM on October 1, 2019

I just want to follow up and say, there are so many of us in this thread who have been where you are today. It's not anything you did - nothing you've done could have changed the way this man acts. One of the things that has stayed with me since my own time is when someone told me, you have a good heart -- you kept extending the benefit of the doubt to them. That's not a weakness or a failure in yourself -- it's a good thing, and a strength. But someone else took advantage of that to hurt you. In time you'll learn who deserves that from you.

I remember how bad it hurt and how awful it was. You're probably in the worst of it now. One foot in front of the other, take steps to get yourself safe and away from him. Of course you're attached, of course you don't want to lose him. But he is not making you happy -- only tired and sad and hurt. He has rejected any opportunity to change that. It's time to put your own happiness and safety first.

I'll be thinking about you.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:31 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

I know you're just starting at this job, but maybe you could take a sick day or two to deal with this? A year or two ago I was having a hard day emotionally and the head of my department noticed I think (not sure if she saw that I'd been crying or just noticed I was being touchy or what) - and she suggested I take a day, or go home if I had to. I haven't done it very much but occasionally after that I've taken a couple of hours or a day if I don't think I can work and stay composed at the same time - ie, a "mental health day." You don't have to tell them that's what it is just say you are feeling ill. In the end that might be better than being an emotional mess, just the same as it's better to stay home than be ineffective at work because you're fatigued or have a headache, etc. I think it's a valid use of sick leave if you don't abuse it - and this seems like this situation would fit the bill.
posted by knownfossils at 8:35 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

A trick to not crying is to shift into "thinking" mode. Even something as simple as alphabetizing a series of words or trying to list all the states in the margin of your notes can help.

As I mentioned already, I wouldn't tell them unless you need to leave to change the locks or take other safety measures, or unless you're worried he might come to the office.

You can look at work as a place of refuge from all of this. He's not here and you can take a break from thinking about him right now.

If you can't, I agree with knownfossils that you could get the time you need while protecting your privacy if you said you weren't feeling well.
posted by salvia at 8:41 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Many jobs have some kind of free confidential counseling service through HR - they're there for once-or-twice counselling or triage, so maybe see if your new job offers something like that and then reach out to them. They could possibly suggest how to cope with juggling this stressful situation and the new job.

My instinct is also to quietly let HR know - they are supposed to keep this kind of thing confidential if you go to them - but I can also understand why you may not be comfortable doing that just yet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on October 1, 2019

I would not say anything to your work until you have no choice (like, if he becomes a security threat), and it's likely going to leave a faint stink on you if you take sick time right away.

BUT I think you probably could apologetically tell your direct manager you'd been "horribly sick" just before your first day - nothing contagious haha! but also not a thing you wish to describe - and are still a little underpowered, and apologize that you might seem unenthusiastic but you really are thrilled to be there. If the response is to encourage you to take a day if you need to, or a half-day, you could go ahead and do it, but it would almost be better to decline if you don't think you're going to come back after a day off looking rested and substantially better.

Work can be kind of a blessing, to have something else to do with your time, but it's hard when you're exhausted and frightened.

I do not think HR is a safe space by any default, and you're too new to know anything about their reputation. There is no guarantee of confidentiality except where explicitly covered by law - certain kinds of health information, whistleblower protections, maybe a little bit of protection from retaliation for reporting a health/safety violation or harassment. Anything else is very likely to be communicated directly or indirectly to your management and runs the risk of you being labeled as problematic, especially in your first 90 days of "probationary" employment (which may not be an official policy at your employer, but in most cases that's roughly the break point where it starts getting more expensive to fire you).

You really need a job right now, as brutally capitalist as that is. Having a steady paycheck is a powerful asset for someone in a fragile domestic situation.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:57 AM on October 1, 2019 [12 favorites]

Yeah, if my eyes were watery and I appeared very tired during my first week or two at a new job, I would be all, Excited to be here, just breaking in a new allergy med, before I would admit to turmoil in my personal life. You're finding your footing and don't know these people yet.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:36 AM on October 1, 2019 [13 favorites]

Consider talking to your local domestic violence organization. They can help.
posted by stormyteal at 6:57 PM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I never did call the domestic violence hotline, wish I had. Did end up getting some practical advice and support from the DA's assistant whose job was to liaison with victims of domestic abuse. She said he was a typical abuser, and no, there was nothing special about him.

I also saw a therapist afterward, who, like yours, validated my belief that he was a narcissist. She encouraged me to take up walking every day, which I did. I put on my earbuds and went walking, listening to my favorite upbeat music. I pretended I had dragon wings, and each step was making me more powerful. She also told me to focus on a hobby, any hobby, and I started writing and journalling, using a pad of paper and a pen. I still have some of my old journals, and it's amazing how far I have come since then.

Does your area have something like a confidential crisis support phone line? In Maine, we have the Warm Line, where you can call and talk to a peer who is trained to listen and has had mental health issues, so they understand where you are coming from. I've used it in the past, and it was helpful to have someone to talk to, who wasn't going to pass judgement and would simply listen.

I personally would feign sickness or allergies, as someone suggested, until you know the lay of the land at your new job.

When is the next time you see your therapist? Do they have a system for calling in in times of crisis? I was seeing a therapist during my crisis, and did arrange an emergency session with her, and since I'd moved afterward, then the new one, the one who told me to go walking every day.

I'd read somewhere that tea helps with stress, being an American coffee drinker, I only drank tea once in a great while. But one time I was flying, and we were having a lot of turbulence, and I ordered a cup of tea, and it really did help (unless it was a placebo effect, but who cares?). Can you make yourself a cup of tea as a ritual, when you get to work? To transition from your home life to your work life. Maybe a favorite cookie or special roll, like a croissant, to go with it. Doing little self-comfort gestures like this for yourself can be a great way to self-soothe during times of stress.

Please keep trying to seek support, from the DV hotline, or friends, etc. You've been through a shock, so pat yourself on the back, and if you have to, go to the bathroom and cry in there for 5-10 minutes, then splash your face with cold water and touch up your concealer. If I lived near you, I'd love to come sit with you and eat ice cream and watch The Crown.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:20 AM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

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