I Let My Boyfriend Treat Me Badly
I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost two years now. I’m 19 and he is 21. To put it bluntly, he’s not the nicest guy. He calls me names and sometimes he’ll act controlling towards me. When I tell him I want to end our relationship, he’ll act like he doesn’t care which freaks me out enough that I never ACTUALLY end things. We’ve “broken up” before and I always contact him practically begging for him back because I literally go insane without him. It’s like I can’t breathe sometimes when I’m not with him and it is a dreadfully terrifying feeling. I have become completely dependent upon him for my happiness. The thing is, I know he treats me horribly. He loves to call me stupid and he gets angry at me now for practically no reason at all. The last reason he called me horrible, horrible names was because I didn’t respond to him quickly enough through text messages. Sometimes he’ll act like I’m not allowed to have my own opinion. He’ll threaten to break up with me if I don’t agree with him on something so I always end up agreeing even though I think otherwise. Lately, he has called me a bad name pretty much every day. He really never treats me well. I sympathize with him when he’s sad, I apologize when I do or say something wrong or rude, I try to talk rationally instead of calling him names. He never sympathizes with me, instead he’d choose to laugh at me. If someone does something to upset me, most of the time he’ll take their side. He very, very rarely apologizes. He’s probably apologized a total of 10 times in the entire two years that we’ve been together. He’s told me before that his ex is better than me and that he doesn’t actually love me. That he has just told me he does so I’ll be happy. With each new, horrible thing he says to me, I think to myself “this is the last straw, I will not put up with this anymore.” But then the next day I start to miss him and I contact him. It’s honestly like I cannot control myself. I know that this is bad and I know that I SHOULDN’T be with somebody like that but I feel that I’ve become so dependent on him that it’s nearly impossible for me to be without him. When we’re broken up, I am so depressed. Every ounce of joy is literally taken out of my life and I’ve thought of suicide because of it. I just don’t know how to live, or function, without him. I don’t have a job either. I have nothing to do during the day but talk to him and I’m in my house most of the time because I have anxiety around people and most of the time I’m afraid to leave my house. Why am I like this and what do I do?
A. You would be surprised how many young women find themselves in this situation. Let me take you back through the explanation you gave so you can reframe what has to happen.
- He is verbally abusive
- Doesn’t take responsibility for his behavior
- Refuses to acknowledge his mistakes
- There is no joy when you are with him
- He doesn’t treat you well
- He doesn’t care if you say you want to break up
- He only want you to agree with him
- He wants things his way
- You are too dependent on him
- He depresses you and you do not feel good about yourself
- He has treated you so badly you have considered ending your life because of him
- You don’t know how to function without him
- You are afraid to leave your house and your world is built around him
When I read over this list it seems clear to me that that the work is on figuring out how to leave him, not if you should. Toward this end I recommend three things: First, you need a ton of support. You say that you are in school, and I would recommend that you talk to one of the counselors there to get someone to understand what you are going through.
Second, I would ask the counselor to help you find a support group to help with your anxiety. This will help you broaden your circle of friends by helping you overcome anxiety.
Finally, I would recommend developing new skills that will make you more independent. You may want to check with your primary care physician about getting some medicine to help with the anxiety as you begin to develop a broader range of skills and connections.
The reason you haven’t been able to break away is that you have not had enough support in doing so. Create a support system of family friends and professionals that can help you when the anxiety of the breakup gets to you. The more support you have, the greater the likelihood you will be successful when you break away.
About Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPPDan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
Tomasulo, D. (2012). I Let My Boyfriend Treat Me Badly. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 29, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/10/29/i-let-my-boyfriend-treat-me-bad/