How Do I Leave My Boyfriend?

Reader’s Question

My boyfriend is 28, I am 27. We have been together for 5 years now. Since I have met him he was “a trouble”, which means that he dropped out of school (he studied at university), but not because he couldn’t learn (he is very intelligent and a talented musician) — because he couldn’t stand any form of “authority” (he believes that his teacher’s knowledge is always insufficient…). Anyway, during those years I realized that he needs a certain “support” to manage to finish his studies and earn a degree, so I have decided to be his support (I thought it was love).

In this relationship he was often in a bad mood, and often violent — not physically but mentally, which caused stresses to me, and several times this stress was so enormous that I had to hurt myself… (I thought that the reason was his wanting to get back to school, but a certain fear of not succeeding at it — which was opposite from his always stressing that he’s a genius!), but last year he admitted to me that he is almost certain he has a psychiatric “diagnosis” (never put by the doctor — he’s afraid of doctors and afraid that he would be socially “marked” if he got diagnosed “written on paper”) — maybe bipolar disorder… I must stress the fact that he reads and thinks a lot, is very intelligent, and when he hasn’t got “the anxiety attack” — or whatever this is, he is very warm and nice, it is a pleasure to talk with him; he is creative, lovable…

The problem is that some years ago I realised I don’t love him as a boyfriend, but probably just as a brother or a friend. I tried several time to talk about it with him, but he would start to cry, saying that is not true, than he would cry for hours, saying that he cannot live without me, etc. He is always saying that we are almost husband and wife, but as much as I am concerned, that is far away from truth. Several times, when I try to break up, he was calling me, crying, begging, and he managed to make me feel guilty, sorry for him, and soon I would come back… It’s the same pattern: I know I don’t want to be with him, I try to let it go, he cries, threatens etc., and soon I am with him again.

Now he studies far away from me, we hear each other through the telephone, but he plans our living together. I don’t know how to end this: my hypocrisy and feeling guilt if I want to leave him (he always says how can I leave someone who is mentally ill!!!).

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I think one thing is very important: I have a sister (2 years older than me) who also has psychological problems (she tried suicide two times and she is alcoholic, paranoid…) — maybe I cannot leave my boyfriend because he “reminds” me (at some subconsciousness level) of my sister (who is also very unhappy in love and had only two short and very traumatic relationships — both of her boyfriends left her because she is “not normal”).

Please, help me with some advice!

Psychologist’s Reply

From your description, your boyfriend may have more “personality” than mental health issues. Problems with violence, authority, and social stability are often associated with personality disorders. For this reason, I would recommend reading my article on Identifying Losers in Relationships — available on this website.

From a practical standpoint, it doesn’t matter what his status actually is — it’s harmful to you. Individuals with personality disorders (narcissistic, antisocial personalities) are totally self-oriented. They operate only interested in their own agenda. As you’ve noticed, he is not concerned about you disliking the relationship, being upset, harming yourself, or trying to leave. He’s only upset because you are trying to leave him. He is totally capable of burning you out emotionally through his crying, begging, use of guilt, and yes — even threats. Once you’ve been overwhelmed by his manipulations and return — he’s back to business as usual.

In my Loser article, I’ve outlined guidelines for detachment from toxic individuals. I would review and use those guidelines. As an intelligent manipulator — you can expect a variety of “cons”, manipulations, use of guilt, ploys, and even threats. You must stick to your decision and detach before you become trapped in a relationship you don’t want. Keep in mind, he doesn’t care if you don’t want it — it’s only what he wants that matters. Good luck in this adventure.

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