You are in a relationship. Maybe a few months in. You don’t really think you love the person. Especially since you seem happier doing your own thing. You decide there is no point in continuing the relationship. You talk to your partner about separating. They cry. And beg and plead for you to stay.
But you are still not happy. You think you are staying because you care about the person. Not love. But care. And you don’t want to hurt them. Every time you mention a possible separation, they cry.
Until finally one day, you decide to take a step and end the relationship. It is going no where. You are not very happy. You want to be independent and free. You initiate the break up saying you want to focus on certain things in your life.
You partner is upset. They then realise you are socialising more after the break-up and are even more upset. They call you at odd hours in the night crying and sobbing one minute, verbally abusing you the next minute and calling you names. They threaten to hurt themselves and kill themselves. They tell you that if you don’t come back to them, they will end their life. They cut themselves and show you the scars. Telling you it will go further if you don’t get back together. They are unwilling to get help. They say you made them do these things. You made them feel this way. They are fine if they are with you.
What some people don’t seem to understand is that this is a form of abuse. The partner who threatens to hurt themselves and kill themselves is emotionally manipulating you. They do not need to have a history of physical abuse or sexual abuse. But there would have possibly been signs of other forms of emotional abuse. Like getting jealous if you spoke to members of the opposite sex and making a point in letting you know that.
By blaming you for the break-up and blaming you for them cutting or harming themselves, they are trying to make you feel guilty. And the problem is, most people do end up feeling guilty. You feel bad that someone you care about may kill themselves. And you worry that if they succeed, you will be blamed for it. And it is that guilt that makes some people take back the partner. Who in turn, learns that this is how they get their way and this is how they keep a relationship they want. Understandably, it is unlikely to be a happy one. But it is still on their terms.
Break-ups are hard for most people. You feel sad. You lose your appetite. Or you want to eat a lot more. You want to isolate yourself from others. You tend to sleep more or a lot less. All of these are normal reactions to grief and loss. But harming yourself is a bit of an extreme reaction. And harming yourself and telling your ex and blaming them is even more extreme. The perpetrator arguably has their own mental health problems they need to deal with.
What the partner who initiated the break up needs to understand is that it is not their fault. It is not their responsibility. The best bet would be to not take calls from the person making such threats. And if not, to call the emergency services and tell them you are concerned about your ex’s safety giving them the reasons why. That way, it is out of your hands.
I think it’s hard for people to understand this — that they in fact, are NOT responsible for someone else’s actions or feelings. Each individual is responsible for how they feel or behave. No one can make them feel or act a certain way.
The sooner we understand this, the better.
Note: The reason I haven’t used any particular gender here is because unlike physical abuse, this form of manipulation and emotional abuse can be perpetrated by both sexes.
Until next time,