Ask Wendy

Why Can’t I Break Up with Him?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
couple woman wants to break up
Hey Wendy,

My boyfriend and I are in our mid-thirties and we’ve been seeing each other for about eight months. I want to break up with him. I've been increasingly unhappy in this relationship, mostly because he gets into these awful mood swings and when he does, he can be a total dick toward me. When he's happy, he's nice and considerate. It amazes me that one person can be so different.

If his moodiness only affected him, I might be able to tolerate it, but he gets into such a dark place that I start to get dragged down with him. I hate that feeling.

In the beginning, I just took it and ate it and waited for him to be on an upswing again. Now I speak up about how his moods affect me. He’s said he’d heard this before, so I'm not the only girlfriend who has experienced this.

I’ve tried to have the breakup conversation with him, but he gets so sad and worried whenever I talk about being unhappy. I think he genuinely loves me, but it feels like wasted time to be with him. I'm a fucking adult! Why can’t I just break it off? I feel so stuck.

Heather P – Reno, NV

Hey Heather,

That situation has got to be hard. We are all wired so differently when it comes to depression. Some of us breeze right through life without it barely affecting us, while others struggle seasonally to constantly.

Ultimately, you get to decide who you spend your life with, and what you can and can’t tolerate for your own well-being.

You could give him a chance before you break up. Say, “So I know you’ve been told this before, but here it is again. You’re about to lose me over your mood swings. If you don’t want to break up, then you and I need to make some deals right now and change how this affects my life, because I won’t stay under these conditions.” Decide together what you’re going to do about it. Think safe word.

Maybe at the first warning signs, say, “Moody?” like a gentle alarm system, so he is alerted to watch for and control how he is with you. If he can’t, then you are free to go with a clear conscience of knowing you tried.

Regardless of our circumstances, we all have the ability to control what we say to those we love (barring Tourette’s syndrome). So, he needs to do his part in managing his affliction, and you need to do yours by letting him know where the line is for what’s acceptable and what’s not, and calling him out when he crosses it.

Good luck!

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