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My Loved One Is in a Toxic Relationship, and I Want to Help

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My loved one and her boyfriend have been together since high school. She is in her mid-twenties now and they just had a baby girl. He has tried to leave her multiple times throughout their relationship, but she would threaten suicide in order to keep him around. A little bit about her: she suffers from childhood trauma. She had a very rough life growing up before she was adopted into my family. There is a history of schizophrenia, depression, and autism in her biological family tree. She is unreliable when it comes to committing to plans. She used to sleep all day, before the baby. She is never happy and if you make any mistakes, she will hold a grudge forever. She expects perfection from others, but will have excuses for herself. Since the age of twelve she has always had a boyfriend, I think her greatest fear is being single or alone. She is always angry or upset with him but will not let him go. A little bit about him: he is 3 years younger than her, he wants to be a twenty-something year old and hates being restricted by her. He has ADHD and chronic migraines, as well as a dysfunctional family. He has gotten to the point where he tries to reach out to other girls, or he tries to escape with friends. She goes through his phone every day AND SEES THAT HE IS TRYING TO CHEAT ON HER but will still not let him go. He has stopped doing household chores, he no longer helps take care of their child, he is trying to escape. If he is ever alone with the baby he tries to get others to watch her for him. He is always reaching out to me telling me how he does not love her, and how he wants to leave. I do not respond, but I predict that if he manages to leave, she will follow him. Or he is just venting to me and actually will not try to leave (because he’s done that before). They are currently looking for a new place to move in to. I do not want to risk reaching out to him due to his phone getting checked everyday, but I do not think my loved one will listen to any advice I give her, because she is not looking for it. Please help.

My Loved One Is in a Toxic Relationship, and I Want to Help

Answered by on -


While I can appreciate you wanting to help this drama isn’t yours to dive into. As much as you care for this woman, it is clear that the couple has issues they need to cope with on their own. You getting directly involved in trying to fix this isn’t what you’ll want to do, as it prevents them from doing what needs to be done to fix or end the relationship.

If is hard to know exactly what your relationship with her actually is when you say “loved one”, but in your capacity the best thing you could do is help her get some therapy. You may want to try the woman’s center near where you live or check the “find help” tab at the top of this page.

The complex, difficult, and ongoing nature of these issues requires more support than a loved one could provide. Helping her get some professional help or a support group near where she lives would be best. Perhaps you could offer to go with her to her first appointment.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

My Loved One Is in a Toxic Relationship, and I Want to Help

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan 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: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Loved One Is in a Toxic Relationship, and I Want to Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Dec 2018 (Originally: 24 Dec 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Dec 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.