My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. We've both been monogamous and faithful to each other from the start. I could never dream of having someone more devoted than he is. He is sweet, kind, gentlemanly, and everything I could want in a partner. I love him with all of my heart. We started getting very serious about our relationship after dating for 6 months and have talked about spending the rest of our lives together. He has told me many times that he wants to marry me and that he'll "surprise me soon." In short, he is not a person I want to let go easily. However, all is not well. He has had a troubled past that involved poverty, physical abuse, and substance abuse, and while he is a lovely guy, he doesn't always appear stable and I'm wondering if it's because of this. Sometimes, it's like he's two different people. Half of the time he's the absolute perfect man for me and the other half he's the exact opposite. When he's in this sort of mood, he calls me hurtful names, says he doesn't love me and never did, wants me to leave, get out, don't ever come near him again, etc. He's never hurt me or hit me but there has been a single instance where he grabbed me forcefully to try to get me out of our room. He will ignore me just to spite me or make me angry. He'll take it all back and apologize and try to make it up to me, tell me he loves me more than anything and acts extra sweet, but it's all too soon before he's exploding at me again. It happens any time I try to talk to him about how he hurts my feelings or if he's stressed, had a hard day at work, or even for no reason at all. He tells me that he's "messed up" and that I deserve better. I don't know if I should listen to him or not. The thing is, when he's not in one of his moods, I couldn't possibly ask for better, and I would be more than ready to spend the rest of my life with him without any fear at all if he would stop slipping into these moods. He was raised in an abusive environment/violent family and says reverting to that behavior is sometimes "too hard to fight." He isn't involved with his abusive family anymore and hasn't abused substances ever since we became a couple. He's made many steps to overcome this behavior, but it's something we've had to deal with since day one of our relationship. These past few months have gotten much worse. We now have these altercations multiple times a week as opposed to maybe once every few months like it used to be. I really don't want to leave him, but I'm worried that this is something he can't overcome.
Could his erratic behavior be brought on by trauma from his childhood and past? Can I do anything to help, or is there anything he can do to help himself? What do I do in this situation as his girlfriend? Do I stay with him and try to help him through it, or would it be better for me if I go? I love him so much and want to stay with him, we've overcome many things and I don't want to abandon him if he needs someone like me, but I'm starting to become scared since these episodes are so frequent. I'm thankful for any advice or input anyone can give me....Please help!
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Hi Anonymous,January 14, 2011 - 9:31am
Thank you for your question, and for finding EmpowHER. I can't imagine how scary this experience is for you, and how conflicted you must feel. Is your partner under the care of a doctor? Has he been diagnosed? Is he on medication?
I completely understand your position. When it all comes down to basics, you've got to do what is right for you. If you feel you are in danger, you've got to get out. If he tells you to leave, leave--don't wait around to find out what's going to happen. When he's in sound mind, talk with him, and explain what you are feeling and your concern. I am hoping you two can work it out, but it sounds like his condition needs some elevated medical care if it's not getting better currently. If he is resistant to work with medical professionals (doctor, psychiatrist, etc.), there's not much you can do and may need to move on. You can still try to help as a friend, but being involved with someone so volatile may not be a good idea.
Bear in mind, I'm not a doctor, this is my own human reaction, so if you disagree, go do what is right for you. Be careful, and be safe. Let us know if you need further support and/or resources. There are some great articles in our mental health section, but wasn't sure exactly what would be helpful in your situation:
Emotional Health articles
Good luck, and please come back and update us.