I was emotionally abusive and he cheated. Should we separate or stay together?

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    My boyfriend and I have dated/lived together since August 2014. We were online friends for years before that. We agreed to start dating and after he came to meet me in person a few weeks later we moved in together.

    Our relationship for over a year has not been good. Basically, I treated him like shit. Ive been emotionally/verbally abusive towards him. This included:

    – Selfishness. Anger. Blowing up over small things. Once I made a public scene when he asked me to do some thing, and I didn’t like his tone of voice. He later said that he didn’t think how he said it was angry, or meant to be mean.

    – Controlling behavior. Getting upset at him when he would do/didn’t do something I liked.

    – I compared him to my previous boyfriend a few times. (He knew that I still had feelings for my previous boyfriend before we started dating, he was okay with it. He knew it would take some time to get over him.) But even later on in our relationship when I stopped having feelings for my ex, I had compared him to my ex when I was angry at him.

    – He felt like I emotionally cheated on him because I had inappropriate conversations with other men (friends) talking about my sexual kinks. Even though I didn’t/don’t have feelings for any of them and they didn’t have feelings for me, at the time I did not think it was bad. When he brought these issues up, how he felt, I brushed him off and made him feel, in his own words, “that I was stupid for having these feelings”.

    – I stopped being flirty with him over text messages while he was at work. I would tell him to get off his phone and go back to work. Or if he tried to flirt I would usually change the subject. When he would come home and I’d try to hug/kiss him he’d often push me away. I felt rejected. He felt rejected. It was a continuous cycle.

    Our relationship within the beginning of this year became very toxic. He started cutting himself, which he hadn’t done for years. His depression and anxiety became very bad. (Of course my behavior toward him made it worse). Our arguments became more intense, he would start throwing things, breaking things, or hitting walls/doors.

    A couple times I called suicide prevention because he threatened to kill himself and he refused to talk to them. One night I called 911 after he cut himself again and made a suicide threat. The officers gave him a number to therapy for low-income residents and he never called them. We tried going to a therapist that my mother knew, she prescribed anti anxiety meds for him, but we only went a couple times (and by the second time we saw her he was cheating on me.)

    About three months ago he began an affair with a co worker. He left his Facebook logged in a couple weeks after the affair started in order for me to see what he was doing. I was very angry and upset, I even posted it to all my FB friends to see some of the messages he had back and forth between her. (I deleted it later on).

    I never expected him to cheat on me because we always talked about how cheating was wrong and why did people do it instead of just breaking up. (His father cheated on his mother for many years.)

    He said part of the reason why he didn’t just break out with me was because he wanted me to feel some of the pain that he’s been feeling from how I’ve treated him for the past year. He also said he still wanted to be with me, just craved the affection and attention he felt I was not giving him.

    Since then, he has said over the past few months how much he loves me and sometimes still wants to be with me but cannot trust me and is not reassured that I will not treat him like shit again.

    We still live together. There have been lots of arguing back and forth. He has been sleeping in a separate bedroom for the past few months. Some nights he doesn’t come home, saying he sleeps in his car at empty parking lots. (For whatever reason he says his girlfriend’s mother will not let him stay overnight at their house even though she owns it.)

    He has no job since the store he worked at closed permanently. He is job hunting now. (My family and I have always financially supported him. He transferred from his store in another state to one here and when he transferred they deducted his pay and hours. He’s only been able to pay his own bills. So far, since his last severance paycheck ended a month ago, he still asks us to help him financially even though I said a couple weeks ago he could consider it a loan and pay it back over time. I really am not sure if he plans to pay it back though). He’s always felt upset that he had to get financial support from us and can’t sustain himself.

    I’ve been talking to an online therapist for the past couple months she thinks if he won’t agree to do couples counseling then separating may be the best thing to do.

    The other day I walked into his bedroom and he has pictures of his girlfriend hanging up. It really upset me because he never had photos me me hanging up. He said part of the reason for that is because I never sent him photos. He would ask me for selfies and when he would post pictures of me and him together on Facebook I would say it’s stupid and ask him why he was doing it (I’ve always had low self esteem, didn’t like to be shown off. In my previous relationship I even yelled at him for telling other people I was “amazing” because I felt like I wasn’t good enough).

    I texted him the other day saying that if he wanted to just be my friend I was willing to do that but he can’t keep spying on my Facebook messages, treating me like I’m still his girlfriend and arguing with me about the past all the time.

    The day before yesterday he woke me up and handed me a letter saying that we’re just hurting each other and maybe it’s best to separate. (The only problem is he’s done this before. We both have said maybe he should leave and then the next day or so we change our minds. Our emotions keep going back and forth).

    He is upset that I continue to push him away. (Even though sometimes he pushes me away too.) He thinks I’m rushing him to make a decision whether he wants to get back together with me or not. And I keep saying if he wants to work on us he needs to leave his girlfriend. Obviously he’s not willing to do that yet.

    I can’t honestly be sure how he feels about his affair partner. He said he loves her a “little bit” and he said a few times before that he feels that maybe her and him are just using each other as emotional support since she just got out of a bad relationship too. He says one thing is she never argues with him.

    He told me that one reason he’s been away from home all the time, even when he’s not job hunting, is because he’s tired of arguing and tired of hurting me, and me hurting him. He said in his letter that it’s hard for him to even be around me because he just is reminded of what he used to have with me and it makes him sad.

    Part of me thinks separating is the best thing to do. The other part of me thinks that maybe I should try to work through this pain and try to be a friend to him. Because even if he doesn’t want to date me anymore I still care for him and love him and I don’t want him to be out of my life forever, which he has said before when I brought up the idea of separating he said if we separate he feels like we will never get together again, even as friends.

    When we talked the other night I told him “it’s unfair that you told me that if I was dating someone else you would NOT want to be my friend or want anything to do with me but you expect me that from me.” He said it is unfair but that’s how he feels.

    I also need to mention this, since he keeps bringing it up:

    A few weeks after his affair, one of his friends messaged me. His friend mentioned that he had gotten out of a shitty relationship a few months before and started to talk about his sexual needs not being fulfilled. I brought up what I did sexually with my boyfriend, hoping to get an opinion and seeing if the reason why he cheated on me may of been because one reason (aside from his emotional needs not being met) is that I didn’t meet his sexual needs. Afterwards his friend started to flirt with me. I didn’t stop him, even though I hoped he would change the conversation, part of me, (which I admitted later) kind of liked to be flirted with since I felt like shit after being cheated on.

    Later ‘my’ boyfriend came home. He said someone told him about the conversation. He grabbed my phone and read the messages. He became so angry he started ripping down and destroying photos and drawings he made me that I had hanging in the wall, as well as throwing things around.

    He keeps saying the day before he found out about that conversation that he was going to come home and break up with his girlfriend and decide to work on us. After reading that conversation with his friend he said he felt like he died. Even though the day before that conversation he had said to me that he was done with me forever (again.)
    He said the way I handled that conversation with his friend just made him feel like all of his insecurities about me were “proven to be right” especially since I’ve opened up about my sexual kinks before with others.

    I told him the other day that bringing up the past, even that conversation with his friend which happened three months ago, is not getting us anywhere. He said there’s so much pain. I said I understand that but we’re not getting anywhere when he keeps bringing up what I did in the past. I can’t change what I did in the past. I’ve told him I wish I could but I can’t. He said maybe he’ll never get over this pain and maybe he can’t get over it so we can’t be together again.

    Should be separate? Or try to work on being friends? Should I stop getting upset about him seeing this other woman? Part of me feels like I’m being used. But even if I didn’t, it’s hard to be his friend when he keeps seeing this other woman…

    I’ve told him before part of me thinks that maybe it would be good for him to keep seeing his girlfriend… Even though he says he’s not entirely happy, he keeps going to her for a reason so she must be meeting some of his emotional needs… At the end of the day I do care for him and want him to be happy even if he’s not with me. He said the same to me.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you have any advice to offer. I know I need to make changes and change how I treat him. I’m willing to work on myself and treat him better. I just don’t know in regards to our current situation if it’s best to stay together or separate.

    • This topic was modified 7 years, 5 months ago by Soupy.

    Dear soupydroopy:

    Definitely better that the two of you separate completely. Reading your post, it seems that your relationship with him, once living together, went downhill and fast following your ongoing abuse of him. Since then the two of you created such a storm, that now it is too messy to fix it; too difficult and none of you is emotionally well enough to make it happen. Better to exit the storm.

    My advice: complete separation. If you keep contact as anything, acquaintances, friends, boyfriend-girlfriend, you will continue to hurt each other and your individual healing will not be possible.

    Since the storm started with your abuse of him, I would consider, if I was you, to forgive any financial debts you feel he has, any money he owes you and maybe help him a bit more to get on his feet in a life completely separate from yours- maybe a couple of months rent elsewhere- you figure it out, if you so choose.

    But complete separation- that is my strong advice. And then, take on healing personally: therapy for the hurt you experienced as a child, the hurt that keeps coming up, needing to be acknowledged and processed. That, I believe, is the valid message behind the anger you described.



    Thank you Anita. However, I offered to pay for a place for him but he says he would not be able to afford groceries or anything.

    I am lost on what to do. I really cannot afford my own place or another place, I offered to see what he would say but in reality it is great deal of money that I do not have.

    Yesterday I got mad and blew at him because he wanted to go to the gym with me and my roommate but the night before I had said we should do a 30-day no contact and he made it sound like he had agreed. He ended up walking back home, and when I came home I discovered that he made dinner for us earlier. He said he did it because he was trying to re-establish our friendship.

    He wrote me a letter and talked about how he didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. But he’s said that before. I do not think he is capable of doing no contact with me. I tried before a few weeks ago and he just got upset I was ignoring him.

    I just can’t handle the unfairness. This morning I cried about him being with another and having her photos on the wall in his room. I know he would not tolerate that with me. I think it’s very unfair he expects me to want to be his friend while he sees another, but said he wouldn’t want to be my friend if I dated someone else (even though I don’t want to).

    What can I do? Do I try to be friendly, try ignoring him? This is so emotionally draining. I know I need to get help with my anger, I have a very bad temper and I, always trying to control things.

    Thank you for your help.


    Dear soupydroopy:

    You wrote in your last post that you can’t afford your own place, did I understand correctly? But I thought he is not contributing financially to rent and such… so if you/ your family are paying the rent, why can’t you live without him? Maybe in a smaller place without him?

    I read your last post and I am still very clear that this relationship is destructive for the two of you and should be terminated, each one of you going your separate way. This relationship is too broken and too messy to be repaired.

    For one, the two of you will need individual and couple therapy for a long time. He will need to terminate his relationship with the other woman. This is to start. And why bother? The two of you do not have a child together (good!). The two of you are not married, never have been (good!). You do not have common property that ties you together.

    My strong advice: Separate, either he moves out or you move out and the two of you live separately, cut contact and you move on with your life as he moves on with his life.


    Bethany Rosselit

    Hi Soupydroopy,

    What really got me was how much you attacked yourself in your original post. When you judge your actions like that, you lose out on the opportunity to really discover what is going on. You did what you did for a REASON. You were trying to get a need met. So ask yourself why you did and said those things. You are a good person. Let me repeat that: You are a good person. So your actions are not because you are inherently “bad.” Your mind needed something.

    Whatever you decide to do with your relationship, you need to look inwardly first. Give your mind a chance to be heard–by you!–without judgment. Discover your reasons and patterns, and it might help your path to become more clear. This article that I wrote might actually help: http://www.onlinelifecoaching.info/blog/2015/7/8/overcome-your-fear-by-redefining-your-assumptions .

    If you stay together, you need to open up communication. I could write a novel on strategies here, but the bottom line is that you need to have a frank discussion on WHY he cheated. I second Anita’s recommendation that you get some professional help to improve your communication styles and to break away from destructive patterns.

    And, okay, his self-harm and suicidal tendencies need to be addressed. This is something that he NEEDS to get help with if you stay together, and you need to set some boundaries. For example, absolutely NO threats of suicide or self-harming during a fight. I know I’ve already put a link in here, but this might help as well (and rewriting it would be a novel!): http://archive.aweber.com/awlist3899232/M1Ra1/h/World_Suicide_Prevention_Day.htm

    Well, hope that helps, and keep us posted! Most importantly, take care of yourself!



    Anita: My family owns the home we live in. I do not think we would be able to sell it right away, and finding a new place would take time.

    He cannot afford to pay for anything (he’s currently looking for a job) and he would probably be homeless if he moved out.

    He is not willing to leave her.

    I wrote him a letter tonight and left it in his room to see when he comes home. I said I cannot do this anymore and even though I don’t want to I can’t keep holding onto hope that he will want to be with me again when he keeps seeing her, so I said please do not contact me and that I wish we could separate from one another but neither of us have the finances to do so.

    I expect that he will be upset about the letter. Last time I asked for no contact he came home and cut himself. 🙁

    I have asked him to consider couples therapy, and offered to pay for individual therapy for him too, but he won’t do it.

    One thing that upsets him a lot is when he asked why I did those things (inappropriate conversations with others) I say I don’t know. And the answer is truthfully I don’t know, I don’t understand why I did those things. He said if I actually had a reason he would probably feel a little better about it.

    He’s already told me why he cheated. He felt like I was not emotionally supportive. He wanted affection from me that I wasn’t giving him. He didn’t feel like I loved him.

    I cannot force him to get help. I’ve offered to pay for therapy for him but he refuses to go. He usually blames me when he cuts himself and says it’s my fault…

    I really don’t know what to do anymore but we can’t keep going on like this.

    Thank you both for your input.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 5 months ago by Soupy.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 5 months ago by Soupy.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 5 months ago by Soupy.

    Dear soupydroopy:

    Since it is your family’s home where you live with him, then have him move out, evict him legally if needed. At this point your abuse of him is in the past and he may very well be manipulating you to take care of him while he is dating another woman and that may be the purpose of his cutting himself- cause you to feel guilty for your past abuse of him and make it work for him now.

    Have him move out and end this painful situation for you. Be done with this.

    Nina Sakura

    Hi, I really think Anita is right about the whole him moving out thing – this relationship is not helping you at all, is it? You are unhappy, he needs to pick up his act and unfortunately that’s not your job. When it is required, people fight their way through circumstances and it’s time he did that too. I know you are guilty about what you did but letting him stay just because you cant let him go isnt healthy for both of you. He is responsible for his life and emotions like you are for yours. Work on healing yourself – this negativity in your life, is it really worth it?

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