My boyfriend and I have been “together” since August, but on and off since we broke up 3 times. He has these constant feelings of insecurity, self doubt, feeling the need to compete (he visited me after work and said he was better looking than any of the guys there, for example; and today he was upset that his best friend was poking me on Facebook, and it made my boyfriend insecure). He overthinks really bad, gets really stressed out and handles it the wrong way. Two weeks ago he got really stressed and asked if I wanted to break up. Of course not. He’s been cheated on and betrayed and he knows friends and family who have also been betrayed in the past, so I get that he will have trust issues, insecurity, maybe even a hint of jealousy (or a lot of it?), but I think he may need help. I’m not sure. I love him, and when he’s not being upset, we’re fine. But he gets upset a lot; today he said he wasn’t eating because he felt “down in the dumps”. That worries me because over a year ago he was dealing with something else, and stopped eating, and went to a mental hospital. He said that after taking antidepressants, he eventually felt better and he hasn’t dealt with that issue again. The issues in our relationship have to do with him; he always says it’s him, something he needs to deal with, etc. His insecurity, overthinking, self doubt, lack of confidence or trust in anyway, the way he views the world so negatively and always expects the worst possible outcome, etc. Today he said he wants a break. I highly doubt a week-long break will cure this; I don’t want to insult him, but I’m not sure how to say that I think this is something he probably needs to speak to a professional about, and not deal with on his own. His negative thinking and overthinking is causing him far too much stress and though he’s been feeling like this less (or talking to me about it less), it’s making him feel worse. This is the first time he’s told me he hasn’t been eating and that worries me. I love him; what do I do?
A: The history you’ve given me about your boyfriend sounds like he isn’t out of the woods. The moodiness, not eating, jealousy, insecurity, inflated sense of self, all sound like he may need some professional help. You aren’t going to be the one who can help him. In fact, you are going in orbit around his emotions. This makes for a highly unhealthy, difficult relationship. Since he wants a break I’d let him know that you agree and let him know he has to do more to heal himself than just say he wants to come back into the relationship. When people have told me they love someone who has continually broken up with them, keeps on doing so, and has a host of issues when they are together, I usually challenge what they mean by love. It tends to be that they are in love with that person’s potential, not their reality. I’d encourage you to think about this in your situation.