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Dear Mary: My ex-girlfriend threatens suicide every time I try to leave her

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'We moved in together at the start of the pandemic to see how we clicked. That was my worst life choice to date. I felt trapped'

'We moved in together at the start of the pandemic to see how we clicked. That was my worst life choice to date. I felt trapped'

'We moved in together at the start of the pandemic to see how we clicked. That was my worst life choice to date. I felt trapped'

I’m in a relationship that I don’t want to continue, but every time I try to leave, my ex threatens to kill herself. I’d call her bluff at this stage, but she has a young child that I have to take into consideration.

We began seeing each other almost three years ago and moved in together at the start of the pandemic to see how we clicked. That was my worst life choice to date. I felt trapped, and her social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder meant that she was scared to even go outside. So every grocery trip I took was seen by her as my meeting some other woman at the shops for something on the side.

Two summers ago, I was getting ready to leave when one of her parents died and everything hit the fan. Rather than add to the terrible moment, I chose to stay and comfort her. Since then, things just keep going worse. My friends say they don’t recognise me.

I broke things off last August and said I’d stay to help her get ready for the school run as she had crippling social anxiety, but she took it as we were still going out.

When I started gathering my things to go as planned, she told me she was going to kill herself. She has the note ready and has even decided where her child would go when she’s gone. So I promised to stay until the beginning of November.

I made her aware that I don’t love her romantically any more, and then went away for a few days just to test the waters. She kept breaking down on the phone saying she can’t cope without me. But being away from her, I realised that stress wasn’t making me sick each morning and I was finding joy in life again.

Have you any advice?

Mary replies: You are in an impossible situation where you are being emotionally blackmailed to stay in a relationship that you find unworkable. Your ex-girlfriend is using the threat of suicide to keep you, and as well as that you feel somewhat responsible towards her child.

We all make choices, some good, some not so good. You made the choice to move in together and very quickly realised that it wasn’t going to work. And you have been trying to get out ever since.

Your ex is indeed in a very precarious state of mind and I presume she is under medical supervision. But if both of you are suffering with stress, then that only compounds the problem. I can see that up until now you have been putting her and her needs first and while it is laudable, it cannot continue.

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You took a little break and realised that there was a much better life available to you outside of the relationship and this is the road you will have to travel in order to keep yourself well. In the meantime, you should have a talk with someone from her family and explain what is going on, particularly with regard to the suicide threat.

You could also contact her GP, and even though they will be bound by confidentiality as regards their patient, it would be good for them to know what is happening. Your ex will need a lot of support if and when she finally accepts that you are breaking up, but it cannot come from you.

I have seen cases where a partner threatened suicide if the other person left them, and because of this they stayed in the relationship. In no instance did the relationship work out and no doubt it would be the same for you.

You sound very much like you are in the carer role for this woman, and while many become carers for their partners in later life, and accept the role willingly, it should not be right at the beginning of your life together, unless that is very specifically agreed.

You care enough about her to write to me for help and that is to be admired. But in this case you will have to put your own mental health to the fore and make a clean break.

 Contact the Samaritans on 116 123 for free or by emailing jo@samaritans.ie; or Pieta House on 1800-247247. 

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.


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