[Trigger warning for abusive behavior and suicide threats]
My girlfriend of five years recently told me that she wanted to move out of our apartment and break up. She told me that because she was approaching her 30th birthday, and because she had doubts about marrying me, that she wanted to break up so that she could find someone to marry about whom there were no doubts.
There were some other issues that I acknowledge were my fault. She complained that I was too negative and too critical of her, and due to some issues with low self-confidence and insecurities about abandonment, I was often not OK with her spending too much time away from me with her friends and family.
Two weeks after she told me she was leaving, and a few nights before she was scheduled to move out of our apartment, everything fell apart. I was so despondent that I was irrational, and I threatened suicide and made her so angry and frustrated that we ended up having a screaming incident in front of our apartment. She left, and I went back inside with the intention of hanging myself. Before I was able to do so, the police showed up to take me to the hospital, but when they heard about the screaming, and saw the broken plate in the sink, they decided to arrest me instead for domestic violence. My girlfriend heard this, and asked them not to pursue any charges, but in our state the authorities are the ones who can decide to press charges even if the woman doesn’t want them involved. The charge was criminal mischief because of the broken plate, which was “mutual property,” and because I broke it, I was charged with the crime, which falls under the category of domestic violence. I never threatened her or even raised my voice, because I was so despondent that I could only beg her to stay and think about suicide if she left. With domestic violence charges comes an automatic restraining order, and I haven’t been able to talk to her since that night.
I don’t even know what my question is. I guess I’m wondering if it’s foolish for me to hope for her to come back to me, and what I can do in the meantime, and also what I can do if she never comes back to me, or if I never speak to her again.
LEAVE HER ALONE. And also, RUN GIRL RUN! Right? I mean, we have some Classic Signs of A Controlling Man here.
1. Isolates her from her friends and family.
2. Criticizes her.
3. THREATENS SUICIDE when she tries to leave him.
4. Lies, or at least can’t keep his story straight, when he’s appealing for sympathy (see “we ended up having a screaming incident in front of our apartment” followed up with “I never threatened her or even raised my voice”).
I mean look, the guy isn’t a violent wife-beater, but there are some serious red flags, right? And if this gal were my pal, I would be like, “Girl, get outta there! Come stay on my couch!”
Cary’s advice, though, is a rambling essay about how this makes him “sad.” And how the lady probably won’t be able to do any better:
It’s sad. I wish you two could patch it up.
Reading your letter, I become weary of our world and its lack of grace and kindness and common sense. I become weary of the absurd ends to which well-meant political progress sometimes leads us. I become weary and sad to think of two people who have a pretty decent relationship but screw it up because of the nagging thought that there must be somebody better out there, that there must be a way to make this thing perfect.
Relationships don’t get perfect ever. Perfect is not a good ideal for a relationship.
It just makes me sad. It makes me sad that you tried to kill yourself.
You are lucky to have these women in your life, and your girlfriend is lucky to have you. It’s not like there are a million really great men out there; it’s not like she can just go and pick one and be off to her perfect life.
Frankly, it strikes me as kind of a sin and a damned shame to throw something like this away.
Now maybe there are things I don’t know. I’m just hearing your side. You’re a guy. I’m a guy.
And maybe there’s nothing you can do. Maybe she’s walking. When a woman walks sometimes that’s it, nothing you can do.
But it sounds like she really loves you and neither one of you has good relationship problem-solving skills, and there’s no reason to believe she’s going to find someone better.
There’s a lot more to it than that, but GOOD GOD, CARY. You bet your ass she can find someone better — because “good men” don’t berate their partners, isolate them from their family and friends, break shit when they get angry and threaten suicide when their partner wants to leave. It sounds like this man is legitimately troubled and has some depression issues, since he apparently intended to follow through with the suicide attempt. Depression doesn’t make him a bad person; plenty of people suffer from depression and don’t use their mental health problems to manipulate their partner into staying in an unhealthy relationship. But he needs to get professional help rather than pinning his problems on his partner and essentially telling her that she’s “making” him kill himself. That’s manipulative and abusive.
Also? This just doesn’t pass the smell test for me. That he would be arrested for “not even raising his voice” (or maybe yelling, depending on what part of the paragraph we’re reading) and for breaking a plate seems questionable, but I suppose within the realm of possibility. That he would be charged with a crime, though, and issued a restraining order against the wishes of his partner? Ehhh… I dunno. At that point we’re not just talking about an over-zealous cop. That involves cops, prosecutors and a judge. It’s possible, sure, but it seems so overwhelmingly unlikely that I think there’s more to the story — especially since he can’t even keep the story straight himself.
RUN GIRL, RUN.