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Do I break up with him for my sanity, or do I stay with him for his?
by cait robinson
Have a question for Miss Information? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions may be edited.
Dear Miss Information,
I have been dating my boyfriend for nearly three years. He is extremely emotional and cries over the smallest things. In the beginning of the relationship, I thought I liked that he could share his feelings instead of holding it in like other guys. Now, I feel as if I'm struggling to be the female in the relationship. When I have a rough day, and just feel like cuddling, he insists that we talk about it, and decide what to do to make it better. It may sound silly, but his need to over-analyze everything really stresses me out. He's also very ritualistic. He likes to come to my house every other day. So, we don't go out and do much. (When we do, I feel like I'm being too high-maintenance, but I hate sitting at home all of the time.)
In public, he acts more like a twelve-year-old than a man. I've told him several times that I feel like his mom. He blames himself for absolutely everything. He's holding on so tightly that he's pushing me away. I've tried to break up with him, but he says "no." I don't want to hurt him, but I feel trapped. Do I break up with him for my sanity, or do I stay with him for his?
Dear Helpless Claustrophobe:
When dealing with a fragile and/or unstable partner, people generally assume that "toughing it out" is the noble thing to do. It's not. (Self-sacrificial, sure—but not noble.) Your letter makes it seem like your head and heart have already left the relationship, so what is the point of keeping it on life support? Isn't it worse for your boyfriend to date a shell of his former girlfriend than to be single?
You say it's an issue of saving your sanity vs. his sanity, but I'd argue it's a matter of saving your sanity vs. nobody's sanity. Between the tears, controlling, and self-blame, it sounds like he ceded his happiness awhile ago. Ending the relationship may make things temporarily worse, but living a feedback loop of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" won't make things any better.
It's also entirely possible that boyfriend may be suffering from issues bigger than your relationship can possibly fix: maybe depression, maybe anxiety, maybe garden-variety neediness. If you are concerned about him, reach out to mutual friends who might be able to keep an eye on him or shepherd him to better choices. He'll be better off having a network than he is dumping everything on you. You're his girlfriend, not his savior. He may act like a twelve-year-old, but he'll need to grow up sometime; this might be the push that starts that chain reaction.