Boyfriend is becoming abusive

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’ve dated my boyfriend for almost 17 months now, and I love him to death. He means a lot to me, and I would devastated if I ever lost him, but then again, I feel like I have lost him. I’m 16 and he’s 19 and out of school while I’m going to be a junior in high school. In the beginning of the relationship he was so sweet. He would leave me cute messages to wake up to, or call me early in the morning to say “I love you.” and he would say he hoped I had a good day, ect. He would have all kinds of cute things to say to me. He never yelled or started a fight or anything. He actually did anything to avoid one.

For the past few months of our relationship, he’s changed, a lot. He doesn’t go out of his way to do anything for me anymore, while I do a lot for him. Half of the time when I ask him to open up to me, he’s like, “I don’t know what to say..?” I just don’t understand how he can’t think of a single thing to say to me to open up, like he used to. If I get mad, he hangs up will not talk to me for a long time. He used to run after me if I got mad. Whenever we fight, he is constantly saying sorry, and then he’ll go right back to doing whatever made me mad in the first place. He says I’m controlling and I don’t let him have a life because I don’t want him hanging out with this guy who has a drinking and a drug problem.

He’ll scream at me, call me names, telling me he hopes I die, ect. He’ll say anything to me no matter how harsh it sounds. And then later once I’m crying he’ll say he didn’t mean it, he loves me, and that I just really make him angry sometimes. And it feels like the only time he apologizes to me is after I’m crying. That’s when he stops being rude and starts being caring. If I’m not crying, he’ll keep going on and on and on. He’s never actually hit me, but occasionally he’ll break something when he gets mad. He’s already made scenes in front of his own family because he got angry with something I did. If I go out with friends, he’ll start getting cocky and being rude. If I talk to a guy, he starts calling him my second boyfriend, and he’ll get angry.

If I don’t answer my phone right away, he’ll call repeatedly. The one day, I was out with a friend and I didn’t answer my phone when he called. And he called repeatedly. By the time I checked my phone, I had 80 missed calls, 5 texts, and 2 voicemails. Often he’ll go out, tell me he’ll be home later, and then he’ll stay out all night. Every time though he’ll have an excuse as to why I didn’t hear from him. Yet, if I do that, I hear about it for the entire next month. He says everything is my fault because there was one time where I did lie to him, but that was over a year ago and I’ve apologized for it countless times. He says if I wouldn’t have done what I did, we would’ve never started fighting.

He’s 19 years old, he still lives at home with his dad. He never finished high school and didn’t even get his GED. He had a job but got fired. He doesn’t even have a liscence. He keeps constantly telling me, that he’s going to go for his liscence soon and that after he gets it, he’ll go look for a job, and then go for his GED, and then go back to a trade school so he can work with cars as his future job. But he has yet to do any of that and whenever I bring it up, he snaps and starts screaming at me.

He always has something negative to say about everything I do. Whatever tv show I’m watching, he’ll say something along the lines of “That show is retarded. It’s nothing but drama.”, or if I hang out with a certain friend, “She’s fat. She’s a bad influence. She’s nothing but drama.” ect.

Now, I have a job and I have my drivers permit, I’m going for my liscence in a few months. He’s trying to talk me out of getting my liscence because he thinks I should wait until I’m 18 to drive. He says I’m too young to drive and I’ll cause an accident. Whenever I get paid and I tell him, he’ll immediately respond with, “So how much money have you already wasted?” And so on and so forth. I’m so sick of being treated this way.

But he acts abusive, obsessive, controlling, and every time I try to leave he’ll threaten to move far away, or sometimes he’ll threaten to tell my parents anything that I’ve done behind their backs. Yet he claims that he’ll only do that if I ever cheat on him. He makes it extremely difficult to leave him. And often he’ll say “It’s over.”, and then call back and be like “You know I didn’t mean it baby, I love you, of course I don’t want to lose you.” And even though he puts me through all of it, I still care about him. Deeply. And I feel like I’m the one who’s kept him out of trouble, and part of me feels like if I do ever leave him, he’ll screw up his life more than it already is, and I don’t want to see him end up like that.

Any advice? I’m so lost…

A: This is very hard, isn’t it. You fell in love with a sweet boy. While you’ve been growing up, he’s been regressing. It looks to me like you still love the boy he was rather than the man he has become.

Sometimes people ask me a question they already know the answer to. I think this may be the case here. No one deserves to be screamed at and told horrible things like she should die. You know it. I know it. Even your boyfriend knows it. He knows that you are what stands between him and being a complete failure. But here’s the thing: He needs to deal with his own problems to become the man who is worthy of your love and care.

Please consider taking a break and going out with other people. Enjoy your high school years. They will be over all too fast. If this fellow shapes up (meaning gets his GED, his license, a job and a respectable lifestyle), you can revisit whether you want to be with him. If he doesn’t, you won’t have wasted any more of your time and your life on him.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Boyfriend is becoming abusive. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/07/29/3302/