Home > Abusive relationships, Marriage, relationships > 12 Signs You Should Break Up With Your Girlfriend or Boyfriend or Spouse

12 Signs You Should Break Up With Your Girlfriend or Boyfriend or Spouse

Breaking up is never easy (especially if it’s not your decision), but oftentimes it is necessary. Perhaps it’s a matter of growing apart or falling out of love. Perhaps one or both of you just aren’t into each other anymore. In extreme cases, perhaps the relationship has become emotionally and/or physically abusive, alternating between cold, sullen resentment and overt hostility.

People stay in unsatisfying and/or toxic relationships for a variety of reasons: fear of being alone, fear of change, the comfort of forked-heartthe familiar vs. the fear of the unknown, financial reasons, children, religious beliefs, etc. We tell ourselves it’s not that bad or things will get better as a reason (i.e., excuse) not to make a difficult, but positive change. Unhappiness in your primary relationship affects every area of your life—physical and mental health, career and other relationships.

Below are some strong signs that it’s time to end your current relationship:

1.    If you’ve been hurt physically.
Ignore excuses and apologies; if violence has surfaced, it will surface again. Get out at the very first strike. This goes for men, too. If your partner, pushes, kicks, shoves or slaps you and/or throw things at you; GET OUT. Physical violence isn’t acceptable from either sex.

2.    When you’re totally incompatible.
If your partner’s dream is to travel the road as a wandering musician and you’re a city person with ambitions, one or both of you will probably be unhappy if you stay together. Relationships have a better chance at being successful with people whom we share similar values and goals.

3.    When he or she isn’t even close to your fantasy.
You may be tempted to stay with someone just because they’re available and willing, but this is generally a bad idea. There should be some chemistry in order to have a successful future.

4.    When he or she just can’t say I love you.
Even if there’s chemistry, if someone can’t express their love for you with affectionate gestures, nurturing, and the words “I love you,” you’ll never really feel satisfied with them.

5.    When he or she just isn’t there for you.
If you’ve been together a while and can’t count on him or her to come get you if your car breaks down, or to attend family or work events, then you don’t have a solid relationship.

6.    When you’re afraid to express yourself.
Being in love should bring out the best in you. It should help you to be less self-conscious and make you more open and alive. If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time because your partner is emotionally volatile and verbally abusive, it’s probably a sign that this is not the right relationship for you.

7.    When your self-esteem is suffering.
If your relationship is demeaning, makes you feel bad about yourself, leaves you feeling like you’re not heard, and you’re getting more criticism than praise, then it’s time to end it. A good relationship makes you feel respected and loved, worthwhile and good about yourself.

8.    When he or she is a philanderer.
Serial philanderers usually have a pattern of behavior. If you discover your mate has that kind of history, don’t believe “never again.” The heartache and torment will never end.

9.    When he or she commits an unforgivable act.
There are single acts so horrid that they should mean the END. If he or she sleeps with your best friend, is disrespectful to your family, consistently criticizes and undermines you, stands you up at the altar, or commits murder, end the relationship with no second chances.

10.    When the same problems recur again and again.
Loving someone doesn’t always guarantee you can spend the rest of your lives together. If you’ve broken up and reunited and you’re still having the same fights, the same problems or different versions of the same problem, especially if you’ve tried relationship counseling, it’s probably best to end the relationship. Saying, “things will be better” and actually making things better by changing attitudes and behaviors aren’t the same thing. The former is lip service and mollification; the latter is growth.

11.    When he or she says, “I need some space.”
The relationship seems to have stalled and your partner says something like, “I want time,” or “I want space,” or “I think we should see other people,” or “I need to devote myself to my career.” Almost always, what he or she means is “I want out.” These things happen, don’t drag it out. You might say, “Sounds like you want to break up. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I understand. I hope we can remain friends.”

12.    When the relationship just doesn’t progress.
Relationships have a natural progression. If you’re not progressing and you can’t pinpoint the cause, you might want to try couple’s counseling. However, if he or she won’t go, or goes but doesn’t think there’s a problem or can’t see his or her role in the problem, and/or uses counseling to blame and trash you while exonerating him- or herself, the relationship is coming to an end.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.


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Forked Heart by Barsho on flickr.

  1. jp
    March 23, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Travelling, meeting his friends, dealing your parents separation, your impending house purchase, etc., are all sources of stress. You had an argument, he apologized for over-reacting. Sounds pretty normal to me.

    Having said that, it does take a while to find out if you’re truly compatible with someone and you don’t find that out until you get past the ‘in love’ phase and into the real life phase of the relationship. Two years is not that a long time. You’re still learning about each other.

    I’d move forward with him. Do your best, listen to your instincts. At the end of the day you’re the one who has to decide what works for you. Trust your reality.

    Everyone argues. That’s real life. What’s key is that you know how to argue….that you can fight fair, without attacking each other personally, and that you feel heard and understood and that the issues that come up get resolved.

    If you find you’re fighting over the same things all the time, that nothing changes, that the fighting gets more and more frequent, or that he’s abusive during arguments, then you need to think hard about whether it’s a match.


  2. Moll
    March 22, 2010 at 11:39 pm


    I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 2 years now. We met in Hong Kong and I moved back to Australia with him. I am Australian and also have family here. We have had a very passionate, happy, fun relationship for almost the entire couple of years. recently I have found that we start to bicker when we speak about money, or house cleaning. We have been planning to buy a house together so I’m sure that those arguments are stresses to do with our future management of our money and our house. Last weekend we went to a friends wedding and half way through we had an argument about nothing important. I didn’t manage to cross the road in time to jump into a taxi with my boyfriends friends, on the way to the second half of the wedding. He started cursing and told me ‘i wasn’t switched on’. I was really hurt as i don’t know his friends as well as he does and felt uncomfortable having an argument on arrival to the next venue. We arrived and ignored eachother for a while until he came to me and apologised. Ussually that would have been OK but I was still upset, and had been drinking a little. Through the night we started becomming more and more distant, by the end he sat down next to me and we had a serious conversation where he said, if we keep bickering like this i don’t think it is going to work out. Maybe we should end it.
    This is where i was completely shocked and felt so betrayed that after all day of spending time with his friends and coping with verbal abuse from him he finally came to that conclussion??
    I left immediately, and he followed. I got into a cab, he followed. He said he was sorry, he didn’t mean it. When i got home i packed a bag and threatened to leave to my sisters. Finally i decided to stay but slept in another room.
    He spent the next day saying that he didn’t know why he said that, and that he wants us to stop arguing and that he loves me. For some reason, i can’t seem to shake it, and i am feeling very flat. My parents at the moment are going through a separation, and I would hate to think that it is me and my reactions to things that are the problem, because he shouldn’t have been treating me that way in the first place.
    People these days are so quick to get out of relationships, and i just don’t think that this is a big enough reason, but i want to feel better and be happier, and if you could give me an idea of what you think and how to do that, i would be very grateful!


    • mizara
      October 5, 2010 at 12:23 am

      Hi…I hope I am not too late with my advise since your post was several months ago…My advise is to leave while you still can and while he still gives you a great chance not to feel even more guilty about your desision.
      I have been in a rl for almost 3 years, and I am struggling with a question how to break up…I was too hopefull and believed my BF that he is sorry and he will not do it again…but guess what? He continued to do the same (kind of like in your story but x 10000000 worse)…and after he vents he knows he did wrong and says he is sorry. The thing is this…”sorry” just doesn’t do it, I mean you can apologize a few times for different things, but when you do the same thing over and over, “sorry” will not fix your feelings, like it doesn’t fix mine anymore. I ended up not having any trust in his words and I expect now everytime we are together that we will argue, and it will always start and end with his explosion and then his sorrys.

      And another thing, people don’t really change. Maybe on the cirfice, but inside they are really wishing they were with someone else, and that feeling is seeping through into little or big arguments about nothing. My father always said that you can’t really hide how you feel and your true self will manifest itself not in big things like saying “I love you” but in little things like waiting for you to cross the street or not waiking you up when he needs to have a cup of water. And the same thing for you too, its the little things that make the great mosaic of love…many many many little puzzle things that create the whole.
      Unfortunately I am getting my courage only now, and I still haven’t done it and I am still a coward for being too afraid, but if you still have a chance just find someone else who will just love you and not some idea of you.

  3. Mysha
    March 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    ME and My bf have different values, he wans to be a traveling musician and i want to go to college and get a degree in sports management. im a senior and hes only sophomore. Also, we have broken up twice and when we got back together he cheated on me that day, i forgave him for it but it still hurts me. He atually has been changing a lot lately but i dont know if the changes are going to stay..HELP!?

  4. Martin
    February 17, 2010 at 2:51 am

    The thing about this list, though, is that most people would get out of relationships! So many relationships meet one of the 12. I think there is a point where you DO have to hang in there for better or for worse if you’re married. So what if someone needs space or the same problems recurring, or the relationship doesn’t grow. I mean sometimes for something extreme you MUST divorce, but this list just encourages divorce. While I deeply appreciate the website, I have to question whether you are what they call a “pro-marriage” counselor.

    • Mellaril
      February 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

      There may be compelling reasons to stay in a crappy relationship or marriage. Those are on other blogs as are suggestions on dealing with it if you do decide to stay. As for the notion that many relationships have at least one, that’s probably true but there are a few things to consider.

      1. Some critereia are objective, some are subjective. There are only two answers to physical abuse. Yes or no. Other criteria are subjective.

      2. The consequences of the criteria are not equal. The consequences of physical violance are far greater than having your significant other say you need some space.

      3. I would venture you’re not likely to find only one of the criteria present. WWhat’s the pattern telling you? My relationship was a weak 5, weak 6, but a very strong 10, 11, and 12. We might have been able to work through the first two but the last three combined painted a very bleak picture.

  5. Ruben
    February 15, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Me and my girlfriend fight a lot lately, what can I do to stop this or should we just break up?

  6. KS
    February 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I think somehow we’ve lost track of Joe’s post but again he has requested advise (…’Any one with some advice please help) and that means any would be welcomed, right Joe?

    I certainly dont think Joe was doing “favours” or that he’s even prepared to do “favours”. In fact Joe is not “OK” with this – ‘But lately or for a while now I feel like I don’t get my turn. It is always can can you do this or that for me. When is my turn?’ This to me doesn’t sound like Joe is at any fault here. In a “NORMAL” relationship giving (and reciprocating) is imperative. In an “ABNORMAL” relationship giving (and reciprocating) is optional but -even worse- in a DISFUNCTIONAL relationship not giving (and non-reciprocating) is normal, hence I understand Recovering Alpha’s use of the word “closet BPD”. Someone would obviously confuse ADs assertion by the use of the word “MORE” which brought in “TEN TEXTS” and so on.

    If we generalize women’s behaviours then we are loosing the point, in fact we might as well be in other (loose canon) women bashing blogs and not this one. In DR T’s words ‘… Unless you’ve experienced what these women are like firsthand, it can be very difficult to describe it to others. Oftentimes, you’re met with disbelief and/or people think you’re the crazy one (To add salt…) that you are expressing love in Latin when you should be doing it in Greek (as if the request was in Greek) – If someone is asking to have their backs scratched will it now be a different “language” to expect to be scratched back??? By the way any expression of love (or anything), in order for it to be significant and effective, must benefit the intended party (yield the desired results to the party intended) no matter what language is used. The point is that his back is still not scratched – now was there any language used there??? WHY MUST WE ALWAYS LOOK FOR REASONS FOR NPD/BPD’s BEHAVIOUR????????

    I always say that NPD and BPD are serious illnesses (if you “UNDERSTAND” it) and it doesn’t give a #%@^ about the victim (like a parasite), whether you expressing love in latin, greek and god kknows what else. If you are going to blame yourself for GIVING while being in a (supposedly) healthy relationship then reconsider whether you are in a NORMAL, ABNORMAL or plain DISFUNCTIONAL relationship…maybe DR T can put this better in words.

    And to Joe, Thanks. Thank you for showing just how difficult it is to stay with one of these people. Thank you for illustrating also how difficult it is to quit. How their control tentacles of FEAR works…How we end up looking down on ourselves…’I don’t want to thro(w?)ugh it away but I am running out of drive. I am a good man And I do feel like I deserve better’

  7. Martin
    February 10, 2010 at 4:21 am

    I think “A Girl” has a good point anyway! Please don’t get her message wrong, I fell into the “doing everything for her trap” thinking this will help!!

    Wrong!! please jump right in here Dr T. But things should really be measured, balanced out maybe. If I had done that, the realationship would have eneded sooner, which it was going to anyway, I would have been four years ahead by now.

    Can you see what mean?, Hey don’t get me wrong, if any of you rhink you are better off to stay, go right ahead.
    My only suggestion would be to read as many of Dr T’s blogs on this disorder first.
    I have read then all and it helps me to keep moving on and NO CONTACT.

  8. risky
    January 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm


    I really believe you are a good man. I wish i can say the same for my man =/ anyways, Its seems like you do everything, and she’s taking advantage, and i think you should have one last enough is enough talk before you make any serious deastion.
    You can find someone worthy of your kind and giving heart trust me, you don’t need to stay in a relationship that you are only maintaining alone. And you should deff not move in , she doesn’t seem serious like you.

    i know i was all over the place with my answer but i don’t like seeing good people do things for people that might not deserve them.

    no1 dies of a broken heart, no1!

  9. joe
    January 23, 2010 at 2:34 am

    well here goes
    we have been together and for the first year I thought it was great. I spoil her to no end anything she want need or i think she needs she gets. ( she never asked for a thing) foot rubs, back rubs every night. Just to scratch the surface. I am there in every way she needs and she admits that. But lately ( or for a while now I feel like I don’t get my turn. It is always can can you do this or that for me. When is my turn ?
    I don’t ask for much nor do I expect it. when it comes to sex if i don’t start it it don’t happen. I feel like I am just there. I work very hard and always look forward to seeing her. But after about 20 minutes of watching her watch TV i say I am going home. ( and I do). I don’t want to through it away but I am running out of drive. I am a good man And I do feel like I deserve better. Is it time to bounce
    We spoke about me moving in with her a couple of months ago and I was going to move in in Feb but I never heard anything about it. After thinking about it I decided just to leave it alone, because I don’t think it it ids a good idea. Any one with some advice please help I will give more info if needed. Thank you all


    • a girl
      January 25, 2010 at 5:00 am

      Hello Joe,
      I am a woman and just offering my point of view, based on wording of your email. You say you spoil your girlfriend by doing everything she wants, even when she never asked for a thing. Women come to see men like this as brothers. In a lover, we want something else. That is why it is said women like jerks who treat them badly. It is not being treated badly which is attractive. It is a sense that a man puts high value on himself and his time – and would not allow any woman give him any crap. It is confidence, independence, and fun. If a woman is not paying attention to you, go and do something better with your time. You say you deserve better – it is not possible to feel a physical attraction to a person just because they are good, nice men and do favours for us constantly. This can be a huge turn off. Do not make it your main purpose to please her – she is, or should be pleased enough just because you are with her. Any additional expressions of devotion are only valued if used sparingly. Make sure you feel good and sure about yourself regardless of what she or anyone else thinks, have a great life which you enjoy – take responsibility for creating it. If you are confident and interesting, and independent, she will want to share it.

      • January 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

        thanks A girl
        i do see your point and I do belive you are correct. have been neglecting my self lately. I have a lot of hobbies and interests. so now its my time if she does not want to join me her loss.
        thanks again I will keep you informed.
        thanks for taking the time to answer me.

        • a girl
          February 9, 2010 at 4:42 am

          Hi Joe,
          I cannot count how many times I have been in the same situation as you, looking after a guy too much (like a mother) and not spending any time for myself and thinking I am nice – so I really cross my fingers for you!
          Have fun with your hobbies and everywhere else too:)

      • Recovering Alpha
        February 1, 2010 at 8:51 pm

        a girl

        You say …

        “… That is why it is said women like jerks who treat them badly. …”

        You scare me! What you’re describing sounds like “push/pull” behavior to me; see for example http://www.sharischreiber.com/dance.html . That’s CLASSIC dysfunctional. Let’s make an analogy. Replace ‘X’ with Mom, brother, son, Dad, G-ma, uncle, daughter, etc., in the following statement: “Hi X. This is your loved one. I can only give you so much love because you won’t respect me and you’ll love me less if I give you too much.” WHAT THE FVCK!!!! Would a true love respond that way? A mother? A brother? A close friend? A dog? A horse? A BABY???!!

        So ‘a girl’ I’m suspicious that you are a closet BPD/NPD lurking here. What we ‘recovering’ men are looking for in our next relationship with women is something like: “when I give MORE love to my future ‘girl’, she’ll respond by giving MORE love back to me.” (I learned that quote at a Pick Up Artist website by the way; those men have been through dozens of women and the ones they eventually commit to have that characteristic ABOVE ALL THE OTHERS! That’s what THEY say is ‘rare’ in girls — so those ‘normal’ girls ARE out there you just have to sort through a lot of ‘a girls’ to find them …)

        So men if you want abuse, and are expected to change who you are when in your next relationship so you “don’t become like a brother” to your girl, then follow the advice given by ‘a girl’.

        For me, I’m looking for A DIFFERENT KIND of woman that doesn’t respond by withdrawing when I approach and then chase after me when I withdraw after being rejected. That’s the “dance” as discussed in the article linked at start of the entry. It’s classic dysfunction!


        • a girl
          February 9, 2010 at 4:30 am

          hello recovering alpha,
          went skiing so not on the net.

          I read this stuff in a book of marriage counsellor, advising women not to smother their guys!!!

          Imagine you go out with someone who texts you 10 times a day and feels insecure if you do not respond. Does 10 texts mean more love than 1 text? No, it is just a different expression of love. What if you don’t respond and get a silent punishment, pouting etc.? Will you try to give more love – because you got so much from her, right – or will you start weeling weird?

          I am not saying to Joe he should’t give love. He just should stop demonstrating it too blatantly and frequently.

          The same marriage counsellor had an example – let’s say you really, really love steak. Now imagine you are forced to eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. Do you still love it?

          It is interesting to read what you say – you give more love and should get more back. But men – counsellors – warn us women about this.
          I always used to say – have more soup, you wil be hungry, wear an extra jacket, it is cold, don’t struggle with painting the room, I will pay a professional painter.

          That is love women give – caring -and we love it when our friends do it. imagine my shock when I read – from man therapist – that men see this as meddling! That I should never offer an advice to a man! That he will see me as his mother!

          So don’t be so judgemental on feeling as for brother stuff.

          I believe by saying “you scare me” you were actually trying to tell me off, not start open communication with me. Shame..it would be interesting to see it from a man’s view, but I don’t want to feel attacked like this…

        • jp
          February 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm


          I have to agree with a girl on this one.

          There’s a difference between the push/pull–which is a dysfunctional game actively undertaken by the insecure and the manipulative–and the problem of being too ‘nice’, which is a behavior that demonstrates low self-esteem and kills attraction.

          Note that I put nice in quotes. When I say too nice I’m talking about putting the woman on pedestal…all the time, showering her with affection…all the time, doing or offering to do things for her…all the time, etc.

          Of course you want to treat your woman well, and be treated well in return, but when we over-do it we’re idolizing the woman instead of relating to her as an equal. It’s another way to kill intimacy. It sends the message that she’s better than you, and this devalues yourself. A healthy woman doesn’t want to be treated that way. She wants to be loved, not served. She wants to respect and admire the man she’s with. If he acts in a servile way, how can she?

          When you give too much of anything you diminish its value. Eventually it becomes taken for granted, then resented. This is true for praise, compliments, declarations of love, gifts, initiating sex & physical affection, etc.

          I’m not saying guys should put on an act of not caring to make a point or to manipulate a woman into a certain behavior…that doesn’t work for long anyway. But expressions of love are more appreciated–and feel more genuine–when they’re given out judiciously.

          But note: A lot of this stuff has to do with compatibility, it isn’t always about dysfunction. Expressive people should partner up with expressive people or someone’s going to be left feeling hungry all the time. You have to be able to be yourself, and get the things back that you need.


          • a girl
            February 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm

            hi jp,
            you are talking about expressive/unexpressive people. I recently came acroos to language of love – where it says people might be expressing love, but we don’t hear that (and consider them unexpressive), because their expressions differ from our expressions of love. Sounds true! I for instance don’t appreciate compliments too much – I mean, I say thanks, but i feel soo very good if I am hugged without any words.
            see what is your primary love language here:

  10. Jimmy
    January 14, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I’m not sure what to do. I was married for 15yrs to my high school sweetheart. We had 3 kids together and she divorced me. I moved into my own apartment for about 2 months. I then met another woman (online) (who has 3 young kids) and moved in with her a month later. We then went out and rented a house with both our names on the lease. I’m starting to feel like I didn’t get enough time alone. I’ve been married since I was 18yrs old in High School. I’m not sure what I was thinking jumping into another relationship and family so fast. I’m worried that I am missing out more in life, like travel, exploring who I really am etc.. I love her, but I feel like I am repeating a life that I’ve had since high school. I also would feel bad to leave her because her 3 kids love me and they never really had a dad. I’ve never broke up with anybody in my life. I am bipolar so I’m sure that doesn’t help anything either. Maybe I shouldn’t even be breaking up.

  11. Martin
    January 13, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Yes, I agree with Joe, these Vampires have no empathy for anyone but themseleves. I know this is a difficult concept, esp. after all the “LOVE” you have been showen. I am sorry to tell you this but you are just a number to her.

    Once you are of no use, you will be replaced, the best thing you can do is make that happen and move on. I am sure you are a good man, this may seem hard, as I have been through this, but it is the ONLY answer.

    Read more here about your fellow men, are well all wrong?

    Good luck my friend.

  12. Man
    January 10, 2010 at 5:42 am

    I ran into your blog while searching for answers as far as my relationship with my wife and am pretty much confused more then when I started because alot of what you have here does sound the part that been played on me by her…but trying to see if
    I can get a more clear understanding, in order to take action and distance myself, which I’ve already done..

    I’ve known this girl for about 15 years. We went from friend to sorta dating to marriage..and I was always pressured from the beginning to get married but at the time felt to young and never did, as a result I used to get a verbal beating and
    had object thrown at me…I used to ignore all this and though it bothered me, I didn’t think much of it.

    I did consider myself a nice person at that time…but things have changed, as I’ve sort of almost taken some of her ways to defend myself against her abuse..a tricky business.

    Anyway, as time past, things really haven’t changed..I’ve broken it up many times
    only to have her somehow back in my life, through family interventions and what not..I always felt that I had something to do with her ways…almost like I deserved it.

    I’ve personally had experienced abuse as a child myself…sexual abuse and as you have mentioned, maybe I tend to attract those types that may continue the abuse and as I’ve read more and more your site, I’m coming to realize that I’m not the problem…

    I’ve always been told by family and friends to be patient and to deal with and to change, and I’ve made to changes, I’ve married her, working, don’t drink, smoke, no drugs, I don’t bother no one and hope to be left alone..I’ve tried to meet most of her expectations and yet it doesn’t seem to be enough…

    Most of my family have sort of seen past her bs and lost much respect in her and have come around my side…I’ve for some time now, not taken her shit and given it back to her ten fold, which obviously didn’t make things better but let me get
    some ‘balance’ in the picture..

    I’ve tried to stay away from her…I take ‘breaks’ and go to friends and what not..
    but this is not the way I want to continue to live…and by the way, she wants kids for some Goodness Knows what the Hell of a reason! I’m extremely grateful I have no kids, as I’ve seen her with animals and was not content.

    I’ve felt pretty bad for sometime for thinking of leaving her, but consider and reconsider some of the information and insight into the mind of the devil, I’ve come around to consider a more hopeful alternative..

    I’m still sort of young and I have my future ahead of me, waiting. Why wait on someone who might never change and take me a another ride and more..I honestly still have strong feeling for her, I would dare to say love..and I feel truely sorry for her and her ways…I’m not the only victim, her own relatives have experience first hand her ways..

    but alot of what you say is right on the money..

    any advice would be appreciate it


    • Joesixpack
      January 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      To Man, above,

      Whatever you do, do NOT give her the opportunity to carry your child. Do not sleep with her under ANY circumstances. A child is leverage. She will use that leverage to continue to sponge off of you for the rest of your life. And think of how she will view her own child? Once she can no longer use him/her to extort money from you, she will begin a parasitic relationship with them. Do the smart thing right now and divorce her. The relationship will never get better.

  13. Jeremy
    January 9, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks for your reply Dr. Tara. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. I have one question though. What if postpartum depression is her problem? If she has a true illness then I need to be there for her any way I can right? I mean we are supposed to be a family. The physical abuse has only happened when things get really heated. Its been a couple months since it happened last. Im really not ready to lose her or my family. If there is anything I can do to work this out id like to know. What if the problem is with me?

    • Recovering Alpha
      January 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm


      Dr T is very busy, so she might not have seen your most recent reply. My advice is reread your original post but replace your name with your closest male friend or relative — like your brother — whom you love deeply. Then FEEL your reaction to how someone is treating your bro. You are dealing in reality! She is treating you horribly. Whatever is the cause doesn’t diminish the truth of it.

      You hold all the cards here, but from experience and from reading the blogs of other men on this site my advice is to get out now. It will be TOUGH! But in the long run you & your daughter will be better off. You may only see her 1/2 time, but she’ll grow up respecting you rather than seeing her mother denigrate you.

      Good luck.

  14. Jeremy
    December 31, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I need help. I dont know what to do. I am in a relationship of 4 years with a 15 month old daughter. I love my girlfriend with everything I have but I dont get the same back from her. I am there for her in every way she will let me but it seems she wants nothing to do with me. She is physically abusive to me(not our daughter.) She would rather be anywhere but home with me and our daughter. I think she wants out but is afraid because she has nowhere 100% safe to go. Plus, I pay all of her major bills and provide her with a brand new car. Now, I am on the verge of financial ruin and she refuses to help in even the smallest way. I know im better than this but she has caused me to lose my sense of self and has buried my self esteem. There is no physical contact unless I try to give her a hug or a kiss in which case she acts like she is allergic to me and pushes me away. Im afraid to tell her I love her(though I do every day) because I dont want to be too pushy… which is completely ridiculous to me. What happened to the relationships where people loved to spend time with each other and appreciate the small things. Im so lost here. Im still so in love with her but she doesnt reciprocate. Im pretty sure shes just waiting on the next safe thing to come along and ill be history. She’ll try to take my daughter from me and won’t care what happens to me. What do I do and how do I do it? I have developed two options… one that I wont mention and the other is valium. I just wanna be happy.

    • shrink4men
      January 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

      Hi Jeremy,

      I appreciate how painful and difficult your situation is. However, you have 15-month old child, so the time for wallowing about the loss of your gf’s affection is over. Valium is not an option and neither is the other thing you won’t mention.

      I think your only option at this point is to quietly find a family law attorney who specializes in father’s rights and figure out your real options, which probably don’t include remaining with your abusive girlfriend. If she physically attacks you and leaves marks, I encourage you to photograph the evidence. Your gf will most likely move onto her next victim. You need to calmly and clearly figure out a plan to protect your parental rights and your daughter. You and your daughter deserve better. I strongly encourage you to find out about your legal options and work on letting go of whatever feelings of love you have for this woman.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  15. Martin
    December 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for a great site, I have just got out of a 5 year hell on earth, with the “face of human evil” a very good looking one. And this is how she has used God given features to wreck 5 men’s lives, one died of it!

    The child she has in in trainig and the most dispicable 15 year old ever to draw breath, esp. when smiling like her mother!

    I am recovering well after 6 months and the Golden “No CONTACT” rule, and lawyers of course. Keep going is all I can say, this helpful site has been my rock! These people do come with a manual, you just need to find it???? here it is!!

    Get out, get going, you CAN do it.

    I am way down here in the southern hemisphere, but nothing is different.

    I still have a long way to go, nothing secial about me, just to now help as many as I can to SEE and HEAR it, is right in front of you. Learn your lesson and go, take it with you. Teach and help another man, so he can become a good person.

    We don’t need control of anything else….but us!

    God bless you.

  16. jham123
    September 21, 2009 at 4:27 am

    “is celebrating pulling one over on you.”


  17. Mr. E
    August 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Just my take based on what you’ve written here – offer to help her carry her things to the car, then change the locks and find yourself a lawyer. She’s offered to leave – hold the door open for her.

    I don’t think the sex didn’t work out because of her explosion. I think she spent a week luring you in so she could clobber you. It’s more fun for her when you don’t see it coming.

    I’m still with my wife, for the time being, but now I’ve got my eyes open. When she’s being nice – I wonder why. When she’s not nice, I’m not (usually) surprised.

    Sadly, what’s posted elsewhere on this site is true. If she’s being nice, she either wants something, is trying to get your guard down, or is celebrating pulling one over on you.

  18. Ed
    August 14, 2009 at 3:35 am

    My borderline wife exploded with rage when I wasn’t home to greet her after she returned from a private 5 day vacation. (I was out shopping to get breakfast food for our 2 children, who she left in my care.) She told me that she is packing up this weekend and leaving for real this time. She has been making this threat with increasing frequency. How should I react? Will she ever actually leave? NB – all during the private vacation she indicated, via texts, a renewed interest in having sex. Predictably, it didn’t work out due her explosion. Will she leave?

    • shrink4men
      August 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Ed,

      No, unfortunately, for you and your children, she probably won’t leave. NPD/BPD women threaten abandonment like healthy women say, “I love you.” It’s a reflex-like control technique. She threatens you with the fear of loss of the relationship to keep you scared and in line. These women threaten to leave over the most ridiculous nonsense, too.

      You don’t agree with her on a minor issue: “First thing Monday morning, I’m going to see an attorney!” She’s verbally attacking you, twisting reality and you make a factual statement that challenges her distortions: “Why don’t we just get divorced. Then you’ll see.” You ask her how her day was and what she did: “I’m sick of you trying to control me! Why don’t you just divorce me?!” You take care of yourself and your children and don’t give her 150% of your attention: “That’s it! F*ck you! I’m packing my bags! It’s over!

      But these women rarely leave and, if they do, they usually convince you afterward that you’d be stupid not to take them back. If they leave, it’s usually because they have another poor sucker waiting in the wings for them. Oftentimes, “back-up guy” doesn’t work out (i.e., most people won’t tolerate the kind of crap these women dish out) and she comes back to magnanimously “give you another chance.” Please.

      In a healthy relationship, your partner won’t threaten you with abandonment on a regular basis if at all. If I were in this situation and she threatened to leave again, my response would be, “Promise? I’ll pay for the U-Haul.” Also, it’s probably not a good sign that your wife is only interested in having sex when she is miles away from you. If she’s a true BPD, you have to wonder exactly what she did on her “private” vacation while you were home taking care of your young children. Her explosion could have been to camouflage her guilt re: having been unfaithful or having considered being unfaithful. You just never know with these women.

      Again, for your sake, I hope she leaves, but, my hunch is if you ever want her out of your life, you’ll have to use the jaws of life to extract her from it.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • Dave
      March 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Not only will she not leave, but if she can, she will do things that you would never have believed her to be capable of doing. She won’t do things to herself (She’ll only threaten to), she’ll do things to you, and then blame you that they happened. I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is for you and your kids (If you hope for anything resembling a happy future not filled with pain and dysfunction) that you do the following: 1. Document everything she does. Keep the absolute best records (get signed statements from witnesses if possible of any of her erratic behaviors because they are likely to escalate). Check your local laws for what will be admissible in court. 2. You MUST call the police on her for any threatening words, actions, even notes. It may seem like overkill/ridiculous/ unnecessary, but when you are standing in front of the judge who wants to give her full custody of your children and make you pay her over half your wages, it’ll all make sense. You will have to prove she is bat-shit crazy, no one will do it for you. Counselors who you’ve paid thousands to will say, “Sorry, I can’t violate your wife’s confidentiality.” Even if it means you and your kids are going to go through hell. Police records of any visits to your home, even if they just end up telling you “We can’t do anything.” create a paper trail of documentation about which of you will be the better parent in the eyes of the court. 3. Start hiding yourself some money if you haven’t already. I would never have done this, (would have thought it dishonest and deceptive) but my son needed me to and I didn’t. He paid. We paid. She’s still Borderline. You and I need to talk. I really can help.

  19. c
    May 28, 2009 at 12:58 pm


    He says that my “emotional abuse” of him is just as hurtful and bad as his physical abuse. I tell him that there is no comparison, that we can argue, disagree and even emotionally abuse each other all day long, but getting physical takes it to a whole other level. He does not agree. He thinks he has a problem controlling his anger, compounded by alcohol abuse but I should just forgive him for his hitting and threats. Meanwhile, he will not get effective treatment because he is embarrassed and won’t admit how much he needs to stop drinking.

    There is no way to work on his issues with me, if I am terrified half the time to even say anything because he will flip out. WHY ARE PEOPLE LIKE THIS???

    • shrink4men
      May 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

      Physical abuse is wrong, no matter what. If you’re in a relationship that’s become physically abusive, you must get out, whether you’re a woman who’s being physically abused by a man or a man who’s being abused by a woman.

      In extreme cases, emotional and psychological abuse escalates into physical abuse. I encourage you to find resources in your community and online resources for women to help you make sense of and heal from this relationship.

      I don’t know you or your boyfriend. I don’t know what goes on in your relationship beyond what you’ve described in your two comments. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for physical abuse from either party in a relationship. Emotional abuse can lead a person to behave in ways that go against his or her character, but acting out in physical violence is extreme and indefensible. It may suggest that there are pre-existing problems with your boyfriend as physical violence is an extreme response. Again, I don’t know you or your boyfriend, so this is not a diagnosis. I am speaking in general terms.

      If you behave in an emotionally abusive way toward your boyfriend, it may well trigger him to become physically abusive or something else may be going on, like his alcohol abuse or a childhood abuse history. These factors do NOT excuse physical or emotional violence, however.

      In instances of physical violence, it doesn’t matter who did what to whom first. Everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior. If you treat him in an emotionally abusive way, you need to take responsibility and get help for that. If he is physically abusive toward you, he needs to take responsibility and get help for that.

      When physical abuse occurs in a relationship, my advice is to separate yourselves, stop blaming one another, no matter how blameworthy you both feel each of you are, and get help. What you’ve described is an extremely unhealthy and dangerous relationship dynamic for both of you. You both need to stop blaming each other and get yourselves help.

      This isn’t going to be resolved by reading a few blog posts. My blog and other blogs and forums available on the web are there to help men and women to educate themselves about abuse and to empower themselves to get help and/or end the cycle of abusive relationships that they’re in. They aren’t intended to be used to justify more abusive behavior.

      Again, I urge you and your boyfriend to separately seek help offline with your own therapists.

  20. c
    May 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Is there any any hope for a relationship in which the man has hit the woman before? Is it possible for him to change?

    • shrink4men
      May 27, 2009 at 10:33 pm

      It depends upon the individual in question. If a man or a woman (women engage in abusive behaviors just as much as men do) is perpetrating physical and emotional violence in a relationship and can’t acknowledge or recognize that his or her behavior is wrong and that he or she needs help, then, no, I don’t believe there is any hope for the relationship.

      Furthermore, admitting there’s a problem and agreeing to get help needs to be backed up with action. In other words, if he or she doesn’t seek therapy and actively work at changing his or her abusive behaviors, then crying and making promises that “it will never happen again” or that “things will get better” are meaningless and not to be believed.

      • Martin
        January 10, 2010 at 2:57 am

        Look I have just ended a 5 year relationship with an NPD. At the last court apperance (there were 4) for assaulting me, the judge summmend up like this. Most unrepentant, most likely to re offend, did use victim’s name, most narssistic person he had come across in a year.
        Yet all the time, my Exc said it was my fault for here being in this predicament. If i did not upset her she would no hit me…see so simple.

        I have never hit a woman in my life and never would.
        So I agree, all words and no action, leave!!!!! they wikll never change and always blame you, end of story.

        And now there are stories out there where I was the problemm, if only I could chat with the last five guys and two husbands…mmhh!!

        What I did? No contact, no contact, no contact. Just as Tara recomended.

        IT WORK!!! its hard yes but stand up and be a man.
        Good luck,

    • la
      June 29, 2009 at 6:59 pm

      Just for my 2cents: how does the person you fear treat the people around him/her? Don’t be mislead into thinking that because his attention is focused on someone else things are getting better because his overall behavior is sending a message about the way things are really going to go in the future.
      The reason I say this is simple: we (my mother and I) lived next door to a couple who drank heavily. They had problems, including the wife’s adultery, and it was very ugly and violent. They destroyed each other and their only child in the process by making him choose sides. The husband refused to let the wife keep the thing she wanted, which was the house.
      In a support group, they apparently met another couple who ended up buying their house. Guess what? This new, younger, faster husband psycologically dominates and threatens the wife. She is so afraid of him she draws everyone and everybody around her into the conflict and tries to make everyone else a target.
      When he wants something he orders us to do it, even if it is about **our** property. He threatens us by saying “don’t make me kick your ass” when he doesn’t get his way. This is to the point both have already been read their rights and told they are going to jail if they can’t confine and control their behavior to their own property and **no one else’s.**
      It’s not a cliche to say, watch how they treat other people, especially when they think there is no recourse or someone is **too nice or non-confrontational** to object or to make a scene.
      There’s about to be a great big scene on my block.

    • Erick
      October 13, 2011 at 1:34 am

      No. That is under one of the “unforgivable” things.
      Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal, these are principles which every man of every faith can embrace. These are not polite suggestions — these are codes of behavior. And those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost.

      There are varying degrees of evil, we urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption.
      The McManus brother say it very well in the movie boondock saints. Crimes against women should go in there as well. I cant forgive a guy who does stuff like that to a woman at all. If he “loves” her he wont hit. ever. period. if he does hurt you he doesnt love you. simple as that.

    • Ashton
      May 2, 2013 at 4:10 am

      I’m just gonna say it plain out, no. There is no chance it can get better because you will always reameber that he\she has harmed you(physically). People can’t just change they are a certain way for some reason. It may be they have been abused, pure pressure, or they might even think its cool. If they ever do change it won’t be a big enough change he or she may still abuse you.

      • Wizard
        May 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm

        I here it again, that horrible sound of a narcissistic personality!!!!
        One can describe it any way you like, that doesnt change what you are dealing with.

        This disease can only be helped with immense help, often never asked for because the one involved will not admit there is anything wrong, the problemm is the other person, these people do not have faults. Ask yourself, if the shoe was on the other foot, would you admit to being at fault, they cannot “see you” You are their means to an end, the end being “what they want”

        Get out!!! yes it hurts I was 49 and met the love of my life, or so she told me!!!

        My life has never been better since, as now I am armed with more knowledge.

        Listen for it in the early stages of the realtionship………..you WILL see and hear the signs, these people are open books once you have experience! if you hear it you will know, if you feeel it, it comes in the form of a chill running up your spine, LEAVE and NEVER go back.

        Going Back is the training they are giving you for the future……………. You are worth more!

        I have been helping here for nearly 10 years, I have never forgotten, and have met some amazing people on these pages. The Doc is a great lady listen to her.

        Although we think there is no one else to find as good as this one, we are wrong, I was!

        Keep up the good work in shareing.
        Wizard (from New Zealand)

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