If you leave me, I’ll kill myself – The ultimate abuse of your empathy and compassion

A suicide threat is the ultimate form of control with an empathetic, caring person. If you’re in a relationship with someone that threatens to kill themselves if you leave them, you need to follow very specific steps so that:

1. You aren’t stuck in that relationship forever and
2. If they’re truly serious about taking their own life, you do your best to help them stay alive.

(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)

I want to talk about probably one of the most egregious and abusive behaviors that can stem from an emotionally abusive relationship, the threat of suicide. When someone says, “If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.”

There are other threats that are similar in nature to this, like when someone you’re in a relationship with says, “If you leave me, I’ll do this,” or “If you do that, I’m going to call your job and tell them you’re an awful person.”

Today’s episode is going to focus mainly on the threat of suicide. You can use the suggestions I offer for other scenarios too, but I’m going to focus on when someone says something to the effect, “I love you so much that if you ever left me, I’d kill myself.”

That comment is from someone abusing your compassion and empathy, and guilting you into staying in what I would call a very unhealthy situation. I’m sure anyone would probably call that an unhealthy situation.

This is not love, it is fear. When somebody says that, they’re saying it out of fear.

Please note that everything I talk about in my show is meant for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a professional before making any changes that could affect your health and well-being

In this episode, I’m giving you one angle; One possible outlook from my point of view about when someone threatens suicide. When it comes to something as serious as this, you want to make sure that you are getting all the professional help that you need, and hopefully, the other person needs too, if they’re willing to get help.

That’s one of the suggestions, of course, is when someone says something like that, your response could be, “Hey, let’s go get some help. Let’s talk to a therapist, let’s go to counseling together. Let’s figure this out.”

I haven’t found too many good resources online on how to work your way out of a relationship like this or deal with a threat of suicide from someone if you want or need to leave them. The emotional abuse aspect, manipulation, and coercion where they are forcing you to stay “or else” is the hardest part because the person saying it is trying to make you feel at fault for their behavior.

I’ve been trying on different scenarios in my mind. I’ve been reading articles trying to figure out the best way to handle something like this. I’ve had this happen with couples I’ve worked with, not to this extent, but something similar in their past. And from what I’ve seen, 99% of the time, it’s an empty threat.

But somebody can pull it off and make it happen. Their goal is to make you feel guilty enough to stay in the relationship or keep doing what they want you to do because they’re afraid. They think if you leave, they’re nothing without you. They think that their happiness comes from you. They think that their worthiness comes from you, their lovableness comes from you. They put all of their time, energy, and attention into you to get back what they don’t have access to inside themselves.

We do this in relationships. We often want to get what we don’t have in ourselves from our partner so that we can feel good, important, loved, and even “complete.”

When someone gets into a relationship and longs and desires for what I would consider “gaps” in their life, or empty emotional holes that need filling that didn’t get filled during their childhood, when they don’t have the right type of healthy love, time, and attention from their parents or their caretakers, they can have these empty spaces inside of them. They will often feel the need to fill those empty spaces with someone else’s love, time, attention, and support.

When your parents or caretakers didn’t provide you enough of what you needed when you were younger, whether intentionally or not, you may have a tendency to seek what’s missing in you from others.

This is one angle of course, but this is how I view it. When we enter into a relationship, we might be missing components of ourselves, missing the love we want to feel, or the compassion we want to feel, or anything that makes us feel important, validated, and worthy. If we don’t have those in our life before we enter a relationship, we might expect the other person to fulfill those things for us. What that does is create a high dependency on the other person.

A relationship like this can start off great because the person who has those empty spaces inside themselves is now getting all this time, attention, love, and care. They show up as completely satisfied and even elated that they are in the best relationship of their life.

Then one day, the relationship might not work anymore and the other person wants to get out of it. The problem is that the one who felt incomplete before getting into the relationship will now be afraid that they are going to lose the only thing in their life that makes them happy and give them any sense of worth and lovability. They believe if their partner leaves, the entirety of all happiness and purpose will disappear.

When you are the source of someone’s happiness, self-worth, and lovability, they become dependent on you, and you become drained.

A relationship like this is draining. Even when things are going well, it feels draining. You are the supply and they are in constant demand. When someone drains you like that, you want to distance yourself from them. You want to get away from them. They are very needy and they want to be around you a lot. They’re often very clingy.

I’m not putting anyone down that’s needy or clingy. I was like that for many years. I felt that without the other person in my life, I would never be happy or loved again. That one person fulfilled everything I was missing.

This is why I don’t really like the comment or the phrase, “You complete me.” What it’s saying is that “I’m not complete without you. Therefore, you have to stick around in order for me to be fulfilled, happy, and feel worthy and loved. Without you, I am incomplete. Therefore, I will always be unhappy and if you leave that would be a threat to my very being, so I have to make sure if you ever decide you want out that I make sure you feel so guilty that you never leave.”

If you’re compassionate, loving, and empathetic, you probably will stick around even if you’re not in love anymore. This is what can happen. You can fall out of love because that person feels so draining.

When you decide that you don’t want to be in the relationship anymore and feel like leaving, you know doing so will hurt that person so much that you choose to stay against your own better judgment, against your own personal desires or wishes, or your own personal wants or needs.

You end up staying for them, but not for you.

This is like saying, “I give up, and I’m not here to honor me anymore. I’m just going to be unhappy while that person is happy because I’m so afraid of hurting that person.”

Believe me, that person is going to take advantage of that. Once you allow the behavior of someone making you feel bad, making you their only source of happiness, their only source of feeling loved and validated, once you get into that dangerous emotional cocktail, it’s very difficult to get out.

Typically, people who get into that kind of relationship are empathetic, compassionate, supportive, generous and kind, and caring… all of the good stuff. But that good stuff gets used against you.

I’m laying out this foundation. If you’re in a type of relationship in which the other person feels dependent and clingy and needy, and they’re always wanting to be with you and they always want to know where you are, it goes on and on. You might have to report everywhere you go to them. You might have to report who you talk to. It can get quite deep and intrusive.

Not everyone’s like that, but a lot of relationships can turn into that when the other person has that deep need for you to supply them love and energy and all of the things that they may not have enough of in themselves.

What they need to do, because they don’t have enough in themselves, is practice self-love, self-compassion, increasing their self-worth, validating themselves, and working on themselves all the time.

It’s Personal Improvement 101: Work on yourself, fulfill yourself, so that you can bring the best version of you into your relationship.

If you’re not the best version of yourself, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship. Even when you’re in the relationship and you’re not the best version of yourself, however you define that, you can still work on yourself. You still know that they aren’t causing the problems inside of you.

You might have problems, you might have challenges, you might have emotional triggers, and you have to work on those things. And when you work on those things and improve those things in yourself, you stop relying so much on the other person trying to make that up for you.

That’s the dangerous part. When you haven’t had enough love from your mom or your dad growing up, maybe there was some neglect. Even if it was unintentional, maybe you just didn’t have an emotional connection with one or both of them. Maybe one of them wasn’t there, maybe both weren’t there or maybe you were raised by foster parents.

There are all kinds of reasons that we didn’t get enough of what we needed as a kid, but when you didn’t get a lot of this stuff (or some of this stuff), if you don’t work on filling that in yourself, by loving yourself, by treating yourself as your best friend, treating yourself as you would want your mom or dad to treat you – and that might mean, for example, pretending to be your own mom or dad and say, “Hey, you know what? I just want to let you know that I am so proud of you.”

When you can say that to yourself from yourself, you start to fill those gaps and fill what’s missing or lacking in you. When you fill the gaps, you start becoming happier internally, instead of relying on external factors.

I’m not saying this is the solution, but I am saying when you give yourself loving, give yourself compassion, and show yourself that you are worthy and important, filling in those gaps, then you’re not so much pining and longing for someone else to do it for you.

As soon as you rely on someone else to do it for you, that means they have to be there all the time, every time you need it. That means they might have to be around 24/7 just to make sure that you’re happy, you’re fulfilled, and all your wants and needs are met. When you’re in that scenario, that’s when the dependency or co-dependency forms.

If you are both dependent on each other and one of you decides to go on vacation for a week, leaving the other person behind, that might be a week of torture for one or both of you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t miss someone. When you’re in a healthy relationship, missing someone is usually a sign that you care about each other and you want to be with each other.

This is like looking at your partner and asking, “What dysfunctions am I complementing in you?”, or “What dysfunctions do you have?”, or “What gaps are in you that I am fulfilling in a dysfunctional way?”

You can do it in a healthy functional way. An example might be, “Hey, I’m so glad we’re together. But if we were apart, I’d be okay.” I see that as healthy and functional. But I would rather be with you, again, healthy and functional. But without you I am nothing and I am miserable. You can go through that period of time. If you broke up, you might have to mourn the loss of the relationship, but afterward, you bounce back, because you have a solid foundation, a solid emotional structure that you built for yourself in the sense of self-love, self-compassion, and self-care.

When you do all of that for yourself when you’re always working on improving yourself and fulfilling yourself, then relying on someone else to do it isn’t so great. It can still be there; I’m not trying to take that away from you. I’m just saying be aware of what is lacking inside of you so that you’re not so dependent on someone else to fill what’s lacking. This doesn’t mean you can’t have relationships where you can fulfill each other’s needs; it just means you have to be aware that if that person wasn’t in your life, what would you have that’s left over that might need some nurturing?

Again, all of this is the foundation of what I’m talking about today, which is when someone emotionally abuses you by using a threat to guilt you into control. The biggest guilt into control is a threat of suicide: “If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.”

I call that the ultimate abuse of your empathy and compassion because they know you’re empathetic. They know you’re compassionate, they know you care. And you do, you do care about the other person. You probably don’t want them to kill themselves. That’s why they’re saying it. Typically, they know you don’t want them to kill themselves, so they use that as a way to control you and as a way to guilt you into staying, or doing what they want.

How do you handle it? What do you do when that happens? Again, it’s hard to find really good information on this subject, so I took some time and just compiled a few suggestions that might help you out of the situation. Again, this is my opinion and every scenario is going to be different. If someone is really serious about killing themselves, you just have to be aware that it’s going to take some extra special skills on your part.

If you’re in that moment, if you’re in that situation to deal with, you’re going to have to keep a level head. And that’s probably the most important suggestion: Just keep a level head. And know that they’re coming from a place of fear, a fear of losing everything they’ve used you for, to provide for them. I don’t necessarily mean they used you, but in a way they did.

They may have been loving you in a good healthy way, but they have also been using you for the gaps in their life, for the empty spaces in their soul. You not being in their life will reveal to them those empty spaces again, and they just don’t want to face it. They don’t want to face those empty spaces. It’s so scary to them.

Let me just give you some suggestions. If you’re dealing with this, if you’ve ever dealt with it, if you know someone that’s going through it, I think it’s important to talk about this, even though it’s probably one of the hardest topics to talk about. I think it’s one of the most difficult scenarios to unfold.

Imagine, if you’ve never gone through this, imagine you want to leave the person you’re with, and they say, “If you leave, as soon as you’re out the door, I’m going to kill myself.” You don’t even know what to do with that. It’s so shocking. It’s appalling. How do you deal with that?

This is where you have to come back into yourself and realize, Okay, they’re afraid; they’re really afraid. How do I get through this moment?

Let me give you these suggestions.

1. Ask them the question:

“Are you serious or are you just saying that so I’ll feel guilty and stay?”

That’s a good first question. If they say they’re serious, here’s where I go with this, and I don’t want you to make this step one, necessarily. This is one of a few steps that I’m going to share, and it can be in any order. It depends on the scenario and it depends on the context of what’s happening. And it could be this suggestion, or it could be another suggestion. Don’t necessarily take this in the order I give it, just kind of file it in your mind or write it down and go through this scenario in your mind and see what might work best for the person that you’re with.

Let’s just say that you ask them, “Are you serious? Or are you just saying that because you want to make me feel guilty?” You ask that question. If they say they’re serious, I treat it as if it was 100% truthful, then I call the police.

This may not work for you and this may be something that you have to do behind closed doors.  I’m not necessarily saying that you must do this, but if this happened in my life, again, this is my personal opinion, if this happened to me in my life, I would take them 100% seriously if they said they were serious. I would call the police and say, for example, “My girlfriend just said that she was going to commit suicide, what do I do?” They’ll probably come over.

I think this is a very controversial suggestion because what if calling the police pushes them over the edge? Here’s why I gave this as a possible suggestion: 99% of the time, they’re so afraid of you leaving they don’t really want to kill themselves. They’re just trying to make you feel guilty.

What if they really were serious? Let’s just say that you knew for a fact that they were really going to kill themselves if you walked out the door. You knew for a fact. That means that they’re lingering on the ledge, ready to jump off. That’s how close they are to suicide. The only thing that keeps them up there is your presence, which means they’re mentally unstable. That’s not mentally well, so I treat it as a serious threat, and I call the police.

There might be professionals out there that disagree with me, and that’s okay. They may be right, depending on the scenario. I’m just giving you the first one, the most controversial one because if they really are serious, I want someone to intervene, someone that can handle the situation.

Also, it gives them something they didn’t expect. If they’re just using it as an empty threat, I want them accountable for that threat, because I never want them to use it again. If my girlfriend said, “I’m going to kill myself if you leave,” and I took it seriously, and the police came, she would probably think twice before telling me that again.

Here’s what happens. When there’s no accountability, they’ll use it over and over again. As I said, this is a controversial suggestion. I’m not saying you should do it. I’m saying that if it were me, I would probably do that because I don’t like to be threatened in that way. I don’t like to be abused in that way. I don’t like my compassion and my empathy used against me.

You probably won’t hear that first suggestion anywhere else. If you do, I’ll be surprised, but call the police. Tell them that the person you’re with just threatened to commit suicide and they said they were serious. This is pure accountability.

It might even behoove you to call one of their family members to come over and talk to them. Again, if they’re that close to the edge, maybe they need to talk to someone, a friend, a family member, that helps them get away from the edge or the ledge. You want to pull them back, and you can’t be the one to do that because you’re not their therapist, you’re not their coach.

If you are a therapist or coach, it’s not your job to do it with your partner, especially when it’s that close to something so serious. You need to find a way to have someone else intervene, someone who they trust, who they care about who will come and help them off the ledge. If it’s not the police, it’s someone they know and trust.

I got the controversial one out of the way, except I didn’t tell you what to say if they said, “I just want you to feel guilty.” Let’s just say that you said, “Are you serious? Are you just saying that because you want me to feel guilty?” Let’s just say that the other person says, “I do want you to feel guilty, so you’ll stay.” Let’s just say they say something like that, or something else like, “I just love you so much. I know I won’t be able to live without you.”

This is where suggestion two comes in.

2. Tell them, “That’s a really mean thing to tell someone you love. Instead of making me happy, you’d rather make me feel bad. Instead of wanting me to love you because you’re trying hard to be a better person, you’re using my compassion against me. That’s not love, that’s control.”

This is when you find out that perhaps they’re not really serious. They just want to make you feel bad or guilty. You have to tell them that’s not love, that’s control. I can’t love someone who threatens me like that. If you really want me to stay, you’ll get help. If they really love you, they will get help, because if they use a suicide threat to make you stay, they’re not concerned about your happiness. They’re concerned about their own fears.

Telling them, “That’s a mean thing to tell someone you love.” It makes them consider if they really do love you then why would they want to say something mean to you?

You also ask them, “Why would you want to make me feel bad? When you love someone, you want them to be happy. Why would you want to make me feel bad? If you really want to work on this, then tell me you’ll work on yourself, tell me you’ll get help. If you’re that close to suicide, you need help.”

Quite frankly, if they want to control you, they’ll likely take it a step further and make you feel even worse. They’ll say or do something that puts you in empathy and guilt. The bottom line is if they want to control you, they’ll likely take it as far as they can to make you feel as bad as you can. They’ll say or do something that puts you in a mixture of empathy and guilt.

If that’s the case, this is where suggestion number three comes in.

3. Tell them that you would like some time apart, but not to break up. Say you just to get some space between you so that you can let go of the tension and work on the relationship without both of you being so close to the problems.

I got this idea from Frederick Neuman’s article on psychologytoday.com. Dr. Neuman says that by telling the person that you want to work things out, you take some time apart, that will ease their fear and it will make them feel a little more secure, that things aren’t just going to end. The threat of suicide can be real, and even though it wouldn’t be your fault, you probably still care enough about the welfare of the person that you don’t want to see them hurt themselves.

Offering the option of taking some time apart, not to break up, but to work on the relationship. “I work on me, you work on you, and then we’ll talk about what the relationship looks like after that. If we take some time apart, we can get through this.”

I don’t recommend you say that in the heat of the moment. If they just threatened to kill themselves, then that’s too soon and too sensitive and too much of a moment.

Dr. Neuman says in so many words, to stick around a little bit longer, and make them think that things are going to be okay. That sounds a little deceptive, I understand, but what it does is it eases them away from that ledge. It lets them know that they don’t have too much to fear because you care.

You can say you care,” I care about you so much.” If you love them, you can say, “I love you, and I want you to be healthy, and I want you to be well. So, let’s just take this day by day and see what we can do.”

When they’re off the ledge and they’re not in that space, that triggered space where they’re in that fear mode, then on another day, you can say, “Look, I’ve been really thinking about this, and I think we should just take some time apart. Now, this doesn’t mean I want to break up with you. It just means I think we need to work on ourselves because clearly there are problems in the relationship. I want us to get through those problems.”

What you’re doing is that you’re presenting an option to them that gives you both space, especially you, to get away from each other, to be out of each other’s vicinity, to be out of each other’s sphere of influence, if you want to call it that, so that you’re not always in each other’s direct line of sight.

That might mean you stay in different places. I don’t recommend staying in the same place, like if you had different rooms in the house or something. I do recommend you get out of the house, get away from each other, if you don’t live apart already, just so that you have time to be in your own space in your own mind to be around people that support you, but to also remember to always convey that you’re doing this for “us”.

You’re doing this to “make our relationship what it needs to be.” I’m not saying that you’re making this relationship stronger. I’m not saying that you’re doing this so “we can get back together and have a wonderful life together.” I’m saying you’re using words to convey that no matter what this turns into, I still want to be there for you and connected to you, and make sure that you and I get through this okay. It doesn’t mean it has to be forever.

What you’re doing is sort of using some placating words. Again, a little deceptive, but if someone goes as far as threatening suicide, you might have to be a little deceptive, so they stay alive. Again, 99% of the time, they’re not going to do it. They don’t mean it, they just want to put the fear in you, so you’ll do what they want you to do. You can’t take the chance on that 1%, and this is why it’s tricky to talk about. It’s tricky to offer ideas and suggestions on what to do. You do what you can and sometimes what you have to do is be a little deceptive.

Sometimes you have to go in the direction that makes them feel better, that comforts them, that makes them feel secure. For example, imagine you’re a customer in a bank and then someone comes into rob it and they have a gun. You decide to do speed dial on your phone and dial 911 and then hide your phone.

The robber sees you putting your phone away, and he or she comes over and asks, “What did you do?” Are you going to say, “I just called 911”? No, you’re probably not going to say that. You’re going to protect yourself; you’re going to make the bank robber feel at ease.

And you’ll probably say, “No, I wasn’t doing anything. I’m sorry, I’ll do anything you ask.” You’re going to want to make them feel at ease so that they don’t fly off the handle so that they don’t start shooting.

Sometimes when you’re in a situation like this, you can’t always be truthful. You can’t. You might have to role-play a little bit. If you’re in a situation where someone threatens suicide or something else major, they’re going to hurt themselves, you might have to be placating. You might have to let them know that it’s okay, and you’re still there, and everything is going to be fine, and let’s work this out. You might have to do that.

These are short term things. This isn’t something that lasts forever. You have to get through these short-term sensitive moments so you can get to that point where things are going pretty good, and you can say, “Look, I’ve thought about this, and I want to be able to live apart for a while.” You approach it with so much love and so much care and making them believe that it is for the best for this relationship to grow and prosper.

These suggestions are a little controversial. These suggestions might hit on your morality or your ethics. These suggestions aren’t necessarily by the book, they’re just ways to get through the hard times so that you can create a better situation for both of you. You might have to be the one to take control of this, but in a way that makes them feel comfortable and secure so that they don’t fly off the handle, and they don’t reuse threats against you again. It’s weaning you off of them so that you’re both healthier.

It is tricky. I don’t expect this to go 100% perfectly. I’m just giving you food for thought that could be helpful if you’re ever in the situation.

Let me give you my last suggestion. This is another Dr. Neuman approach:

4. Make sure that the person threatening to kill themselves is reminded of all of their amazing qualities.

No matter what relationship they’re in, whether it’s yours or another one they’re in, it should be conveyed to them that they’re going to be just fine because they’re absolutely lovable and worthy. 

He didn’t use those words exactly but I look at it like this, when you get into a relationship with someone that uses you as their source of energy and happiness, you will become burdened, and you’ll feel a lot of pressure to comply with their needs, or you face the consequences of them making you feel bad. Because if you aren’t supplying them with all of these things, they’re going to try to draw it out of you in some way. That could be guilting you. That could be having you access your compassion and making you feel bad because you’re not being compassionate.

They’re going to use these things against you. Again, it’s all based on their fears that they’ll lose what they now have. You supply them with what they need instead of them supplying themselves what they need.  Having you as the source becomes a permanent need for them. It’s just so energy-draining, you just can’t stick around for it, which is why you do have to wean yourself off of them.

What happens is, when someone leaves the relationship, when someone leaves you, and you don’t want the breakup, it’s like a piece of your heart is missing. It’s like they’ve ripped it out. If you don’t have the backup system of lots of self-worth and self-esteem and self-care and self-love, it’s hard to fill your heart back up. It’s hard to fill that because you are so dependent on the other person. This is where they usually are.

They’re so dependent on you because they don’t have enough self-love, self-compassion, and self-care. You become their supply. Someone who doesn’t have a lot of self-worth and self-esteem tries to squeeze it out of other people, and it becomes a drain on them and will cause exhaustion and eventually a breakup because no one can sustain being that kind of energy source for long.

My point is that with a person who does this, you want to help them discover or rediscover their sense of self-worth. Even if you get to the point where you’re apart, and they believe you’re working on the relationship with them, a good idea is to continue helping them see that they are worthy and important, not just to you though, or maybe not to you at all, maybe in general. You’re so important, you’re so lovable, you’re so amazing, you’re such a kind person, you say these things to them, it doesn’t mean that you’re saying it from you (unless you mean it then you can say it’s from you) but what you’re trying to instill is that, in general, “The world loves you and the world sees you as important. These people see you as worthy, these people love you and support you and want you to be happy. These people see you a smart, these people see you as pretty or handsome” or whatever.

It’s just a reminder to them to help you help them re-nurture themselves so that they will eventually feel this so much that they don’t require it from anyone else.

You’re still using all of these external sources, other people, to let them know that they are valid and worthy and wonderful, but you’re doing that in a way so that they aren’t so reliant on you being their only source for all of that.

This is part of the process of weaning you away from them. Eventually, with enough time, you may have to get to that point where you say, “You know, it’s not going to work out. I love you, and you’re so amazing in so many ways, but I need to move on. I need to be by myself.” I wouldn’t recommend you say. “I’m going to go date other people.” I wouldn’t recommend you post it on your Instagram or Facebook that you’re dating someone else.

I wouldn’t recommend any of that, because this person needs to move on as well, and I know this is a lot of work for you, I get that but if you want to get through this sort of unscathed, it’s going to be hard. If you want to get through this, you just want to lay low and do your best to make sure that they understand that they are amazing in so many ways.

You may not really feel that, and that’s going to be the hard part. If you don’t feel that at all, it’s going to be hard to play that game. I’m not saying you should. I’m saying it can help. I’m saying a person that’s in this space, wherever they are inside themselves, probably never got that kind of healthy nurturing. Because they never did, they seek it in other relationships, so that they’ll feel complete, so that they will feel fulfilled.

Even if you’re not in a relationship where the other person is threatening suicide or threatening to hurt themselves or threatening you and other ways, even if you’re not in that type of relationship, I hope that you can see that relying on someone else to fulfill what’s missing or lacking in you, can be what causes an unhealthy dependency on the other person.

If you’re always seeking it from the other person, and that person isn’t necessarily capable of giving it, you’ll always be seeking, they’ll never be enough. They’ll never be enough of that supply that you need. This is why you might have to be your own coach, your own therapist, your own mom, your own dad, your own best friend, sometimes, just to help you fill that in yourself.

These are good things to think about. What are you relying on in your partner that if you didn’t get it from him or her, where do you get it elsewhere? Do you have enough self-love and self-care and compassion in you that if you were to separate or break up from your partner, would your foundation would be strong enough to that you could lift yourself back up and get back on your feet? Ask yourself “Is my emotional foundation strong enough to catch me so that I can get back up if everything fell apart?”

Relationships can be a wonderful thing; they add to our lives. They give us experiences that we don’t have when we’re alone. We can’t experience some of the things that we can when we have someone else in our life. Being alone has its own benefits too. It’s hard to experience some of the freedoms and liberties of being alone when you’re in a relationship.

I think the best of both worlds is probably the best that can happen. When you can have your individuality, the freedom to be yourself knowing that even if this other person is no longer with me, I’ll still be okay.  I love having this other person in my life, and I couldn’t imagine myself with anyone else.

Those are healthy thoughts, even though it sounds like there’s some dependency in there, but because you have a strong emotional foundation, you know you’ll be okay. If they leave me, it’ll hurt. I’ll mourn; I’ll feel awful, but I’ll be okay. I’ll be fine.

This is a strong emotional foundation inside of you. Hopefully, whoever you’re with or are going to be with in the future has that as well. That’s a great topic to talk about when you’re dating, just to find out where they are.

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Clarissa Pagan

My now bf who has a past of trying to commit suicide recently said that when I leave him he would kill himself cause he don’t want to be hurt no more been with him for a lil over a year and just yesterday he tried hanging him self when I went to leave I came back to check on him when his mother called me and said he wasn’t answering the door he was laying on the floor what should I do to get out please help me with this ??? They won’t call the police for help or even let me do it what do I do

Paul Colaianni

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Please re-read or relisten to this episode, it has what I believe the steps you need to take in this situation. When the threat is real, your response to the threat has to be real as well. Whatever harm he does to himself is not your fault or your doing at all, it’s something he needs help with and you are not the person to help him which is why I suggest calling the police as soon as you hear him say he’s going to kill himself. He has to know he can’t use this to control you and that there is accountability for his behavior. At the same time, he could very well need psychological help which is why the police need to be called so he can get into the system to get help. I wish you much strength through this. Just know that just because you are being targeted doesn’t make it your fault no matter what happens. You have nothing to do with his mental health. All you can do is care for yourself and call others for help so that you aren’t dealing with this by yourself.

Julia

I’ve just found your article. We have been dating for 4 months, then broke-up. For 6 months now he is trying to bring me back, threatening suicide. Yesterday I had to call the police cause he sent me a pic of pills saying he can’t live with the pain any more and he will swallow them all, etc. He is saying I am his only source of happiness and if I am not in his life, he will die, cause he can’t live with the pain any more. It is very draining. I dont love him any more and no renconciliation is possible. At the same time, this is underlying mental illness that pushes him to do this, i am sure. Anyway, thanks for the awesome article

Paul Colaianni

Wow, what an awful, manipulative thing for one person to do to another. Thanks so much for sharing this. I might have to write up an early warning signs post or podcast so that when there’s a chance someone will act this dependent on someone else, perhaps it can be addressed before the relationship goes on past the point of no return.

Sorry you have / are going through this. I hope he gets the help he needs.

Matt

Unfortunately, I did this to my best friends. I was extremely depressed and felt overwhelmed by feelings of shame and tried to end my life after an argument we had. I felt so isolated and hated and unloved. They called the police and saved me. But since then, they haven’t forgiven me.

After that, I was able to overcome my depression with a lot of hard work, through therapy and prayer and meditation. I completely turned my life around, and started a podcast to help others with depression.

Despite this, after several apologies and attempts to fix our friendship, they haven’t forgiven me and have kept me blocked. They have also told mutual friends about what happened last year and I lost a large chunk of my social circle. I also left social media entirely.

Even though I have improved and I feel secure and happy with who I am, I can’t seem to move past the anger and hurt I caused them, and how they responded. It just makes me sometimes feel like I’m a monster.

After reading this article, I feel so guilty and ashamed for abusing them, even if I didn’t realize that what I did at the time, I know I did it and I’m responsible for it.

I just wish I could fix this. I’m no longer able to contact them. But I wish they knew how sorry I was and that I love them.

Paul Colaianni

Thanks so much for sharing this here Matt. I believe apologizing should be treated like a one-way street and not one that seeks forgiveness. You’ve healed, learn, and grown from that experience and from this healed self you’ve apologized. That’s all you need to do. I have a couple episodes on apologies and forgiveness that may be helpful to you here:

https://theoverwhelmedbrain.com/podcasts/

In the search field, type the word, “apolog” and that’s it. It will find the two episodes that I’d like you to listen to. Or, at least listen to the segment where I talk about that subject.

Just having your response here is another way to put your apology out there. But now that you’ve apologized, don’t stay in that state. You don’t have to apologize anymore. If you meant it the first time, there’s no need to say it again.

How you apologize can be very important. I like to close the loop instead of leaving it open. Leaving it open means you are expecting a response from them. Don’t do that. Don’t put any pressure on them to respond at all. Don’t seek forgiveness. Just say what you need to say and let them be.

Something like, “I am so grateful for what you did for me. I know that I caused you a lot of pain. For that, I am sorry. I understand if you don’t want anything more to do with me, and that’s okay, but just know it’s because of you that allowed me to start my long journey to healing. I am in an entirely different place today thanks to you. I love you and wish you the very best in life. Thank you again.”

Now the ball is in their court. They can choose to reach out or not. If not, you did your part. You don’t have to stay in that space. They may need to heal as well and it may take them a while. That’s okay, allow them to be in their space and move on.

I hope this helps in some small way. So glad you decided to work on this and be here to share your story.

I appreciate you!

Av VRooyen

Have been married for 44 years. My husband went to work away from home a year ago. I joined him 2 months after he left. He was, when I arrived there to join him, a totally different person to the one I had known for all those years. He became violent, emotionally abusive and completely beserk at times. I withdrew into a state of shock. I thought he had “met someone else” in the time he was alone and wanted me out of the picture. All his behaviour pointed to this. He denies denies denies this. When I said we must part ways because of his continued bad, weird, behaviour, he threatened to kill himself – over and over again – he threatened this. But still carried on with the physical & emotional abuse to me. We returned home (due to covid) and he assured me, very sincerely, everything would go back to “normal” (as it was for the 43 years of marriage before). But it has not – the same pattern continues, daily. I tell him it is not working for both of us – he threatens suicide. (Calling the police is not an option where we live.) We went to a couples therapist 3x (reluctantly for him) where he pretended “everything was ok”. Then refused to go back when therapist suggested he has borderline personality disorder. We are in our mid 60’s and this is a terrible time for both of us….a lifetime together and now this – is hard to understand and get my head around. Most days I want to pack my stuff and go because of the constant drain on me – but because of our good history feel bad to do so if he then falls apart and does kill himself…
He did grow up – from a young age – in a neglectful, abandoned environment. But up to a year ago has not shown any of this behaviour before. He says he could not cope when he was on his own at job and became depressed and angry at himself. But this does not make sense because when I joined him there that should have sorted those problems out for him? It is so confusing and very distressing and exhausting to me. Thank you for your article – it is interesting and enlightening to me.

Paul Colaianni

Sorry you are dealing with this. In a situation like this, no one can give you the perfect advice. Read my reply to Omar below and maybe that might be a direction to take. Or not. Everyone has a different situation and the subject is so touchy for lots of people.

One thing that stands out in your comment is the physical abuse. There is no excuse for that. If you are being physically abused, then staying continues killing you. It’s like a slow suicide.

I don’t want you to go through that. The good stuff is now in the past and your future shouldn’t be fear and worry every day. I can’t tell you the right steps to take except what I’ve already mentioned in the episode. Though, you have a variable I didn’t talk about. The physical abuse introduces a variable that calling authorities could make things worse for you.

Your best bet may be to pack, leave, hide, and go full No Contact. But first, get your support system in place.

I know things aren’t easy now, but I also know that you don’t deserve to be abused in what seems like every way imaginable. You are worthy of kindness and respect. Once you accept this as 100% true, you will do what you need to do for you and allow others to make decisions they need to make for them. Sometimes people do stupid things to make us feel guilty, but people who really care about you and love you don’t do those things.

You are not being loved or cared for, you are being tortured. You were meant for so much more than this.

I wish you much strength as you figure things out.

Missy

For Av—
I’m so sorry that you are going through this. Has he been worked up by a doctor? I’ve been a nurse for many years and sometimes, personality changes like his, especially because he is getting older, can be the beginning signs of dementia. Also, I have seen similar personality changes with silent strokes and brain tumors. I just wanted to put that out there. God bless and I hope things get better.

Last edited 4 months ago by Missy
Omar Florian Arcilla

Thank you for this post and articles. I am in the exact same situation with my now ex. She has been so depressed with what happened in her life and to top of the that, the lockdown that everything has been so overwhelming her. The last 4 months have been really tough on me cause any minor inconvenience and she would threaten suicide. It doesn’t help when I’m on the other side of the country either so I have to take her threats seriously. It came to the point where she was not eating anything for a month and was puking blood. Against her wishes I called the ambulance to which she berates me cause she wanted to go through this on her own. Eventually she calmed down and we went to the A&E. Before I left she felt really empty again and threaten that when I leave, she will just disappear. Against her wishes again I told her housemates and family to keep an eye on her cause I was really concerned and she was threatening suicide again and again. She took the pills but spat them out. I eventually calmed her down after a few hours but in my head I couldn’t do it anymore. She told me I’m her only source of happiness but Its so draining on me that I just can’t keep up with it. I’m so lost that if she achieves it, I can’t forgive myself for it. But she wants something that I just can’t give anymore and I’m.slowly.losing my mind. its really affecting me cause I can’t see her gone. I wanna see her succeed in life and in everything

Paul Colaianni

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like you did the best you could. If you are her only source of happiness, then she isn’t happy at all. If she has no happiness in her and you are feeling drained, then you are slowly killing yourself continuing to be in contact with her.

I get it though, you don’t want her to suffer and you don’t want her to hurt herself. In some cases, poisoning the milk to wean someone off of you is the best course of action. What that means is that you are no longer attractive, appealing, or anything to the other person because they don’t like what you are becoming.

My girlfriend did this with a guy that wouldn’t leave her house. She was living with him for a while and when she asked him to leave, he wouldn’t. She felt threatened. So over a few weeks, she was able to convince him how bad she was for him. She was able to highlight her “bad” qualities and how much more he could get from someone else. This worked for her, but it doesn’t mean it works for everyone.

Poisoning the milk means something different for everyone. You stop showering when you see each other… you’re always asking to borrow money but never paying it back… etc.

I’m not saying these are exactly ethical or honest, but at the same time, the end result frees them from wanting to be with / around you and frees you from the fear that whatever you do will have dire consequences on them.

Many who threaten suicide when so and so wants to leave find that they aren’t as dependent on the other person as they thought when that other person becomes unappealing.

Poisoning the milk is a radical step and I’m not saying you “should” do it, I’m just saying there’s a point if you can’t get out from under the fear and worry, you might need to take more radical action. Poisoning the milk can help someone come to their own conclusion that perhaps they don’t need or want you as much as they thought they did.

I’m sorry you are dealing with this. I wish you much strength.

Dominque Swope

I experienced all of this for 7 years and he did it. I tried and I tried I stayed I supported. I loved and I nurtured. I couldnt make a relationship work if there are lies and secrets and than i loves yous and than if i dont accept the apologies right away it turns very dark and than the i dont see my life without you. I couldnt take his pain away i couldnt make us ok. In his families eyes im the blame. They didnt see what i seen however i have made them aware of this through out the years. I was excluded from all of his services everything was private. But i was the one with him for years we didnt even have family in the city we live in. No matter what if we were together or not we helped each other. And theres so much more to this story. But he is missed so much he left children that are heart broken right now. If you think your not lovee you are so wrong. We all get caught up in our own lives but that doesnt mean u are not loved. This is all so recent it still doesnt seem real. I bearly have motivation to shower. Being social is dreadful i just want to curl up and die. Im taking it one day at a time. And when im up to verbally talking maybe some counceling because we all go though ups and downs in a relationship. I should have been allowed to move on. Just as he did he was wonderful and handsome smart funny i thought i was lucky to get him. But everyone comes with a past and I cant be the only solution to the problems no matter how much i wanted to be.

Paul Colaianni

Thank you so much for sharing this. I don’t know if you’re journaling but it can be helpful if you don’t want to be social or talk to a therapist. I do know that you need to embrace that you deserve a happier existence with people that love you and treat you with kindness. Don’t let anyone ever convince you of anything else.

It sounds like you are on a journey to recovery but it also sounds like you have a ways to go. Never, ever give up and always take steps forward for your healing and well-being. Don’t get sucked into one person’s vortex of misery because you have so much more to live for in this life.

I appreciate you. Thank you again for sharing this.

Khan

I am in this situation i have never had many women in my life and i met this girl recently from my driving job and i only knew her for 2 weeks when she started saying if you leave me i will kill myself. Shes been to university and she did psychology for one year and she left it and done sociology instead. But cause she knows how to read someone mind a bit
She is really messing up my head. Now its been 2 months togather i cannot wait to leave her when ever i tell her im leaving she says shes not going home and walks away in anger.

The reason why i want to leave her is if she can do this now she can do it later down the line when we have kids and then it will hurt more and give me more misery

I hope she is just bluffing and not going to do it because i love her to bits and it will hurt me alot and her parents.

Paul Colaianni

Thanks for sharing this Khan. You are smart not to make too much of a commitment at this time. She may heal in the future, but what you see today is all you can bet on for the future. Hopefully she does heal and get past this, but it’s a tough situation for those she pulls into this. I hope the suggestions on the episode were helpful. It’s such a tricky situation. I wish you much strength and the right words to get through this. Thank you again.

Khan

Paul Colaianni

Thank you for your advice my brother I wish other people were lucky as me to get to this article
As earĺy as me. I just feel pity for those people that go through this for years because its mentally draining and tiring. If feels like someone has put a gun to your head and forcing you do something that her family wont agree to neither will mines. I have completely locked her off and she rings my phone on unknown number and i know it is her i dont pick up . But atleast i know she still alive.

Paul Colaianni you are real live saver for all the people like us that go through this and putting out a article about suicide blackmailing
God give you blessing

Thanks

Paul Colaianni

I just saw this now. I am so grateful for your words. Thank you. Fortunately, this article is now getting found more and more by those who need it. I appreciate your reply. Thank you again.

John Doe

Wonderful article. I can say from personal experience, I told my girlfriend (Ex now) that I need a few days of space from her after her constant negativity and verbal/emotional abuse. That “few days” lasted only a few hours when she texted me begging to speak. I’m glad I answered. She told me that she thought I was breaking up with her and that she took some pills and drank half a bottle of liquor (she eventually made herself threw up the pills). She told me she wanted to kill herself for Her pushing me away and For thinking that I wanted to break up with her. She made me swear not to tell her mother. Against my better judgment, I did not. In fact, I stayed with her for another 2.5 years. She use similar expressions throughout our relationship. “If you leave me I’ll have nothing, no one, no friends, I’ll have to go back home (another state) etc. She used other methods to abuse my empathy and love for her. Eventually I became numb to the relationship and couldn’t leave for fear of her hurting herself. She eventually ended things with me, which came to a total of 3.5-4 years together. It was a relief. I had been planning on doing the same but the prior months were filled with weekly fits of her crying to the point of throwing up/chocking/fainting (I couldn’t tell, they were the scariest noises I ever heard someone make while crying) for fear that she would lose me. Eventually she was able to get a new group of friends, feel a bit more secure without me, and ultimately come to terms that we disagreed on a number of different beliefs that would affect our marriage (she also pressured me to “take the next step”). I ask that anyone who is in a similar situation or feels that they might be, please seek outside help to confirm your suspicions. If you are in this scenario, try to fix it or leave. I wish I had left. I am having a hard time grasping the abuse I received for 2.5 years. When you’re in it, it’s hard to know. I made the mistake of never talking to anybody about it because I was afraid to share our struggles. I also felt weak and embarrassed by them. It hurts knowing the one you love is behaving this way to you, but it needs to be addressed. I lost 2.5 years of my life and most of my confidence because of this. The road to healing will be a long and hard one. And, in a sick way, I still feel responsible for the death of our relationship. I *know* it was abusive yet Ive been so manipulated for so long that I cannot escape the thought that I was the cause. I wish I had this article when I was confronted with the threat of suicide.

Paul Colaianni

Thank you for sharing this John. So sorry you had to go through this. I hope those years brought some benefit as well (mental and emotional strengthening, learning what the red flags are if it starts with someone else, etc).

I am grateful you posted this here for others who might be in a similar circumstance. You got it from both sides: Stay and feel abused. Leave and feel guilty and maybe shame. It’s set up to be a no-win situation.

One suggestion my girlfriend gave for those in relationships like this is to “sour the milk” so to speak. You start showing up to the other person as less appealing and even “wrong” for them. My girlfriend had to do that with someone that wouldn’t leave her house after she wanted to break up. She somehow convinced him that she was no good for him. There are many ways to do that. I’m not saying it will work every time (or even most of the time) but it does help to have as many options at your disposal as possible.

Glad you are out of that situation. Thank you again for sharing.

Lauren Allison

My boyfriend sent this to me. It is all true. What can I do to not be a toxic girlfriend anymore? 🙁

Paul Colaianni

Thanks for your comment Lauren. I’m sure this was difficult to listen to. I talk about this on my other show The Overwhelmed Brain. Tune into that podcast. It’s all about empowering yourself so you can make the right decisions for you and those you love.

You are not broken. You are not toxic (toxic people don’t usually want help). You’re just going through a phase and need some guidance. You may have done some “toxic” behavior, but it doesn’t define you. It isn’t you. It is only behavior and you can change that!

Love and Abuse will help you identify other behaviors that you and those you love may be doing. It will be helpful for you to label and understand those so you can learn what needs to change. And The Overwhelmed Brain will give you lots of tools so that you can increase your self-worth and self-esteem. You’re going to find a lot of helpful info on both shows.

You will get through this. I appreciate you. Thank you for sharing this.

Here’s the podcast: https://theoverwhelmedbrain.com/

And you’re already at Love and Abuse so I don’t need to give you that web address. 😉

Adrienne Uffner

Thank you so much for this article, it literally brought me to tears. My husband and I are divorcing, I also have a restraining order in place because he has tried to commit suicide 12 times in the past year. I have had him involuntary committed 3 times. Its not that I dont love or care about him, but I am emotionally drained. Sometimes I have to stay on the phone with him all day to get him through his pain and its heartbreaking. Before reading this article, I had to tell him I am seeing someone else. I felt I had too, so I could find some freedom from him. Now I wake up everyday wondering if today will be the day he achieved suicide. I am stuck and miserable with feelings of guilt of leaving him and trying to find my own happiness. It’s comforting to know that there is someone out there who recognizes my pain too. Thank you again. I am definitely subscribing.

Paul Colaianni

Wow. So sorry you’ve had to deal with this. It sounds like you do care about him because you actually wanted to help him. Yes, you need to be released from this and realize that you’ve done your part (MANY, MANY TIMES) and you no longer have to be attached to his outcome. Focus on yourself so that you can keep your power. You’ve already given him a gift, now he has to run with it and do what he needs to do for himself.

Thank you so much for sharing this. I wish you much strength and healing as you move forward.

Ginger Wilson

My online friend started liking me, I had something feelings, but I didn’t want a relationship, because I wasn’t ready. He started begging me to be his, but i didn’t want to, and then I said that I need a little time, he didn’t agree with me but did it anyway. He started lying to me about his health just to get my attention, I got mad at him of course, and things get even worse. We tried to talk about these things, but nothing got different. Then he started sending so many texts saying I am a bad person, an egoist and he has suicide problems because of me, I tried to talk to him about that, but he didn’t listen. And then my father forced me to block him. Then he made c couple profiles to text me the same stuff. I feel so horrible about myself, felling like a bad person, like, I am ruining someone’s life. And thinking if I don’t forgive him, he will actually do it and I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.

Paul Colaianni

Block at every turn. And if you are feeling harassed, call the authorities. People like this know how to use your own compassion against you. They rely on your guilt to cause you to cave and be with them. They are dangerous to be around not because they are physically threatening to you (though, some can be), but because they are a huge threat to your heart and mind. Of course you feel bad. It’s because you’re a kind person that doesn’t want to see others suffer. But, he’s forcing you to believe that YOU are causing his suffering when in reality, it’s his own behavior that causes his suffering. Someone who cares about you doesn’t make you feel guilty. They want you to be happy. He knows you’re a nice person so he’s taking advantage of you and violating your boundaries.

Don’t fall for it. You can feel bad for him, but don’t read anything he sends. As soon as you hear his voice on a voice mail, delete it, and block him at every turn or you will cause yourself to feel guilty over nothing you did. Remember, he wants you to feel guilty so you’ll cave in.

It sounds cold, I know. But when you engage with someone like this, in any way, even to say, “Stop bothering me”, it’s a cue for them to continue engaging you. That’s why “no contact” is often the only option.

If you really fear for his life, meaning you think he will kill himself, then the next time he mentions it, call the police because you need to treat them as real threats.

But stop exposing yourself to this toxic behavior. You may have to change your number, make a different social media profile, and other things just to hide yourself from him. Sorry, but this is considered stalking and you are a victim and need to protect yourself.

Please take everything I say as my personal opinion and not professional advice. You’re dealing with someone who needs help and you are not the one to give it to him. You need to protect yourself before you get sucked into something you regret. Better to avoid all you can than to make any connection at all. I hope this helps.

GreyClouds

This article is me. We’ve been together almost 6 years. I made the biggest mistake getting back together with her after I left her a year into seeing this pattern. Now, years later, I’ve had to abandon my friends who tried to stop us being together, left most of what made me the best me – behind in a mental shadow box. But this is my life. What makes it worse is that she has physical illness and disabilities now that REALLY let her sink into the “If you leave me, I’ll kill myself” phrase.

I care about her as a person, but I am no longer in love with her. I guess secretly I’ve let myself go and don’t try anymore hoping that one day she’ll leave me. Then all the guilt of breaking up with her and leaving her unemployed and sleeping on a couch or on the street somewhere will all go away. I just hope that one day maybe it will happen. And that my friends that I left behind and had to abandon will forgive me.

This is the first time I’ve ever typed any of this out. No one, not even my family knows that this is the real me. Not the fake smile and fake laughs. My life sucks and it sucks even more that I’ve allowed one person, the wrong person, to make me feel this way…

vanilee

I hope you are doing okay. I am in a similar situation. My fiance, we’ve been together for almost 6 years, and I fell out of love with him, and tried to break up with him a year ago, and he threatened to kill himself. I think he said it out of fear and desperation at the time, but he has a history with suicide attempts. So I stayed for him, not for me. My entire life is empty right now. My family also doesn’t know, I haven’t told anyone what happened or that I tried to leave him, because I don’t know how to say it to them.

I don’t know if my situation is entirely the same as yours, but I understand the feeling of “I let myself go”. I’ve started living life at the bare minimum, just to get through until I can find a better time to break up with him. But I’m so scared that he will try to kill himself, because he’s so dependent on me emotionally. All I do is drag myself to work every day, then come home and sit on the couch and pass the time.

I really hope you are doing well, and even if you’re not, I hope you can get some small comfort knowing you’re not alone. Hopefully you can get out of that relationship, I really hope so.

Paul Colaianni

Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sure there are others out there that may be going through something similar as you. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn in my life is that I’m not responsible for how someone else, no matter how challenged they are, feels about the decisions I make to honor myself. I’ve learned that those who truly love me will allow me to do what’s right for me. If they are upset or coerce me so that I cannot follow my path, that is not love – it is control.

I’m glad you are expressing this. Just writing it out can be a release, albeit not a huge release I’m sure.

You are dealing with a delicate situation I’m sure. If you stay, you may have to lay down some ground rules on how you wish to be treated. You may have to stand up for yourself and let her know what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is unacceptable to you. If you haven’t done that yet, that may be your next step. Someone who truly loves you will want to know what you will and won’t accept for behavior. They will want you to be happy so they will abide by the guidelines that make you happy. If she doesn’t want to follow those guidelines, let her know that makes you unhappy and that is not love.

There’s obviously a lot going on and I am only scratching the surface. Please know that these are just opinions and not professional advice because your situation would need some very articulate attention and observation from a psychological professional in order to give you a solid path through and out of this.

I do know that no one should suffer in a relationship and both partners should honor each other’s path to happiness. Be sure to continue listening to the podcast. And remember that sometimes the greatest gift you can give to someone who is emotionally abusing you is to take yourself out of the equation to give them an opportunity to learn what they need to do for themselves. Again, your situation may require something different suggested by a psychologist, but I’m only sharing what I’d do.

Thank you again. Find your strength. You’re going to need as much as you can get to take the next right steps for both of you.

Steve

Awesome article I can’t say thank you enough, you really helped me to understand the situation that I’m struggling with.

Paul Colaianni

Thank you for your comment Steve. I wish you much strength in whatever you’re going through.

Lydia E

Thank you for this article.

I’ve been with my husband for 21 years. Since we where teenagers. We where teen parents also. Throughout these years I lost myself and became depressed. He’s had a few affairs throughout this time. I left him for most of my 3rd child’s pregnancy but he claimed he was better and changed so I gave in and tried again. Right before Covid I had my 4th child who needed life saving treatment at birth. Heart and lung surgeries plus many more things to keep her alive. I suffered from PTSD after all of it blaming myself for my baby’s health even though I know I could not have been the cause. It took me awhile to see passed this. Then Covid hit and he had another affair well recovering from my own 2 surgeries and I was working on helping my child heal and get strong. I was pushing my depression aside and he never gave any emotional of physical support and I was the one at fault because I was arguing with him. I won’t lie I did argue a bit more being overwhelmed, feeling like nothing, was not bringing in an income, weight gain and I felt trapped, locked away and hurt. He again claimed it was nothing and changed but not for long. Going through Covid in the first months and even now is scary due to my child’s is extremely high risk. I stepped down from my 10 yr job due to Covid and my children’s needs. He remained working throughout all of this. He then had another affair which I found out on Christmas Eve. We went through Christmas Day for the kids and he thought everything went back to normal but I asked him to leave the next day. He did and stayed away with no calls or contact. He had the money so I could not pay the up coming rent and other needs but I was looking for help. I joined online zoom classes for depression and separation. Applied for jobs. Started working out daily and just overall pushed myself to get better for myself and kids. I was hurting but wanted so bad to feel better. He then messaged weeks later apologizing. I ignored it. Then he did again. He decided to call me that day which I also ignored. I know we needed space and time but he was persistent and called me over 64 times that day. He finally realized I would not answer so he messaged me saying he was going to the hospital. Said he hoped they find cancer or something and that he died then said that he needed his medical card which he had just got a new one right before he left but forgot to put in his wallet. So I answered and told him I was done and could no longer live this way. His response was then I have nothing to live for. No reason to breathe. He hung up so I called him back alarmed by the responses. He told me he walked off the job and was going to jump off the freeway over pass. I messaged his brother who worked with him while on the phone with him and his brother could not find him so I rushed down there to talk him down. The out come was him coming back and seeking help for himself. Things where going better till this week when the last woman he was seeing decided to message me and send a picture saying she was pregnant with his child and he was not responding. I’m crushed. I’m sorry this is confusing and sloppy I am crying has I write this and a mess.
Thank you all for your stores I don’t feel has alone.

Paul Colaianni

I’m so sorry you’ve endured all of this. All I can say is thank you for expressing here and for warning others to watch out for this type of person.

A tiger that is trained not to eat meat will not be able to resist the urge of eating meat. In other words, some people cannot stop their bad behavior and will say and do anything so they can have their cake and eat it too. He wants you in his life AND he wants to act badly and betray and lie to you. You don’t want that and you don’t deserve it.

Sounds like you have some big decisions to make in your life. It sure seems if he’s not killing himself, he’s killing you slowly. Don’t let him do that. You have already shown how strong you are, now get your strength back so that you can take the next right steps.

I know some decisions are easier said than done, but I also know you have the ability to do whatever it takes to show yourself that you deserve better treatment.

I appreciate you. Thank you again for sharing here. I wish you much strength and healing.

Rebecca Hills

My boyfriend has been threatening me with suicide. I know I did wrong by taking a liking to another friend, but I have been deeply and truly sorry about it. Everything you said in this episode was correct, and it purely describes me and my boyfriend’s attributes. I tried to break up with him because I’ve started working overseas and he tried to call me every minute of every day that he even required videocalling while I was sleeping and he was working. It felt like a burden, and I’ve never felt so drained. Now, I wanted to get out of the relationship but he doesn’t want to. He’s now threatening me with suicide and I can’t get in contact with his family because he never showed me to them, so I was thinking that if he would commit suicide, his family would blame me for everything and this makes me so scared. I tried calling hotlines in the country but they won’t answer. I have never felt so devastated before than now. What do I do?

Paul Colaianni

I’m sorry you are dealing with this. I know it’s tough! Please remember a few things:

  1. How people handle your decisions is up to them and their responsibility, not yours. If his fear or pain wasn’t about you, it would be about someone else. This is not about you even though you had a relationship with him. You are not responsible for anyone’s behavior but your own. No matter who wants to be with us or who wants us to go away, everyone has to make their own choices and no one else can be held responsible for those choices.
  2. You have to treat the threat as real. If you knew for a fact he was going to kill himself in less than an hour, what would you do then? Who would you call? What would be your next step? When I think about myself in that scenario, I’d call the authorities where he lives and ask them to do a welfare check on him, telling them that I’m worried because he said he was going to kill himself. I’m not telling you to do that, I’m just sharing what I would do. I treat the threat as real.
  3. Call or chat with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ If you don’t get anyone, try and try again. Use their chat system and you will be guided that way. They are qualified to guide you here.

This is obviously a touchy situation and I cannot guide you with the exact steps for you to take. I could tell you one thing and it could go wrong or I could tell you that thing and everything works out great.

But I can tell you that you should do everything you can then walk away. What that means is you involve whoever needs to be involved so that professionals or family can take over. You are not a suicide counselor (as far as I know) and you’re not a therapist (as far as I know) so that’s why other people need to take this over.

There will be a point where you’ll have to walk away. I can’t tell you when that is or how, I just know you need to do what you can so that you can say, “I did what I could” no matter what happens.

The only other piece of advice I can offer (and this is only a personal opinion, not professional guidance), is to start poisoning his perception of you by showing up in a way that is unappealing.

In other words, what does he like about you? Change that. If he loves your blonde hair, color it black. If he likes that you don’t smoke, pretend you started smoking.

Again, these are only OPINIONS, not my professional advice. My disclaimer is everything I’m telling you here is an opinion and you should always seek professional advice from a qualified person. That could be calling a therapist or similar so they can guide you.

My thoughts on poisoning his perception of you works with stalkers so it is possible it could help here too. Sometimes people have an unwavering perception of you but if you started changing that, they might make a decision on who they want in their life.

I wish you much strength through this. And stop blaming yourself. When you’re sorry about something, you only need to apologize once. Say it once, mean it, and then you don’t have to apologize anymore (assume you really are sorry). When you do that, you’re job is done. You’ve apologize and passed the baton on to the other person to accept that apology or not. It’s up to them. But no more apologies are needed. Forgive yourself a break from past behaviors and move forward. You don’t have to beat yourself up anymore.

Aaron

I tried breaking up with my girlfriend today and when I did she said the words “I want to kill myself, I want the pain to stop”. I was so shocked and immediately felt so guilty and horrible about myself. She begged me to stay in the relationship and promised she would change her clingy behavior but honestly, I think I’ve fallen out of love with her. I decided to backtrack and said that instead of breaking up we’ll spend a week apart for me to decide whether to stay in the relationship.

I’m afraid of what’s going to happen in a week from now when I ultimately say it’s best for us to both move on. I feel like a bad person for wanting to break up. My girlfriend says its unfair that I am breaking up so suddenly without her input but I just feel so drained by this relationship that I don’t want to wait for her to change her behavior I just want the relationship to end.

Paul, this statement really resonated with me “You are not responsible for anyone’s behavior but your own. No matter who wants to be with us or who wants us to go away, everyone has to make their own choices and no one else can be held responsible for those choices.” Thank you for that.

Paul Colaianni

I wish you much strength through this. No one is obligated to explain why they want to break up or separate. It’s nice when two people can have that conversation, but anyone has a right to break up with anyone at any time for the reasons that matter to them. I think it’s smart to take a week apart and I’m glad she agreed to it. I can’t guide you on the best path, but I hope you are able to guide her to the help she needs or she is able to find a professional or someone that can give her some coping skills and help to improve her self-worth and self-esteem. I recommend listening to one of my episodes where I talk about my girlfriend and how she had to get rid of a stalker boyfriend who wouldn’t leave her alone. It’s definitely not the same thing you’re going through, but her method of weening him off of her was effective and sometimes weening someone off of you can be a gentler way of breaking up. I’m not saying it will work in your case, I just want to give you as many tools as I can. The episode I’m talking about is this one: https://theoverwhelmedbrain.com/the-adapting-chameleon-personality-when-they-hurt-you-to-get-rid-of-you-accepting-or-denying-toxic-family-members/. I talk about it right before the “outro” of the show where I thank you for listening. I don’t know the exact time it comes on, but I know it’s closer to the end before the background music plays in the last few minutes.

I wish you the best through this.

Katherine

I have been dating my boyfriend for about 5months now. Everything was going great until he started to just change. His attitude got worse, he started to lose his respect for things or people. Then the arguments started flooding in. Each time we would get into a small argument he would instantly threat suicide and then I had to make him stop. I did a little research on this and it shows that if your partner regularly threats, he is forcing emotional abuse on you. The thought of it was so scary and I even stayed in contact with his mother. He is still doing it from this day, and it is mentally draining me.

Paul Colaianni

Those who threaten suicide, in my opinion, need to be taken seriously. If you knew for a fact that he was absolutely going to do it regardless of what you said or did, what would you do then?

Unless you’re a crisis counselor, this isn’t something you are qualified to handle and if I were in your shoes, the next time he said anything like that, I would get a definitive answer from him. I would ask, “Are you serious? Are you going to commit suicide?” If he says yes, be kind and compassionate toward him then without his knowledge, call an emergency number or one of his trusted relatives or friends to let them know he’s going to commit suicide. At minimum, if he’s lying to guilt you into compliance, then he learns about accountability and what happens when he does that type of behavior. At maximum, you’ve done everything you can to save his life.

This is only my personal opinion. I cannot possibly predict what will happen, I just know that if you don’t treat it seriously, it will likely continue indefinitely. I wish you much strength through this.

Anonymous

Thank you for this. It seems several people are sharing their stories, so I want to share mine because I really have nobody to talk to anymore. I’ve been married for almost 13 years, dated for 4 years before that, roughly. I never had that “head over heels” attraction to her. There was never much more than a very basic sexual attraction and someone who was ‘fun’ to be around at the time. We almost broke up several times, including the day before our oldest son was born (2 months before we got married). I told myself I would do everything I could to make it work for my kid. Fast forward to 2017. My mother, who was my confidant for my whole life, passed away unexpectedly (my father passed away when I was 9). My wife gave me no support, and when the topic of her death came up, my wife’s only response was “I miss her too you know” with zero empathy, like she was the one who lost. By summer 2019, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am a shell of who I once was. I lost all interest in everything I enjoy. I don’t do anything for myself unless she tells me to do it, and then I do it begrudgingly just because she wanted me to. It’s a horrible feeling to think that I’m only going out to do things I enjoyed, because she wanted me to.

After probably 4-5 years of contemplating, I decided I wanted a divorce and told her. She was obviously upset, but it only took her about 20-30 minutes to decide that maybe it would be better. Later she would tell me that if I leave, nobody would care if she died, etc. We have 2 kids together, so I stayed. I am still in this “relationship” today, and never been more unhappy. With Covid last year, my entire office started working from home in March 2020, and we are not going back to the office until sometime in 2022, if ever. Being home all day, every day, I started to think about how I understood why people had suicidal thoughts, with the depression. I have known for a long time that I need to move on, but I haven’t been able to, partly because I’m afraid of how our kids will be, and partly because I’m afraid of what she will do.

I just want to move on and be happy, but I’m afraid of what she might do, and while I don’t have any romantic feelings for her and don’t want to be around her, I don’t want her to hurt herself. I want her to be happy, but I can’t make her happy, and I am not happy with her.

Paul Colaianni

Thank you so much for sharing this. Right now, it’s so important to read, watch and listen to material that supports you being the best version of you. When you’ve been so drained for so long, you tend to lose a big part of you. It’s important you raise all those important levels inside you (self-care, self-love, self-compassion, self-worth, self-esteem, etc) so that you will have the strength and the courage to make decisions you need to make. You can’t control what anyone else does, so focus on you now. Listen to my other podcast The Overwhelmed Brain to start. There’s so much more to life than letting fear of what someone might do control you. Maybe it’s time to have a conversation to find out what she wants in a relationship to find out if you add up to everything she wants and needs. Maybe she doesn’t even realize that you can’t provide that to her and she keeps looking for you to provide something you don’t have. Or, if you don’t have that conversation, some people can shift away from toxic relationships like this by poisoning the milk so to speak. In other words, make yourself unattractive and unlovable to the point where they want you to leave. I’m not giving you that as advice because of the tricky situation, I’m just saying that others have done this with success. It weans you off of them as any kind of dependency.

No matter what, I know this is hard. Thank you again for sharing and I wish you much strength and healing through this.

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