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Why is It So Difficult to End an Unhealthy Relationship?  E-mail

Hi Maria,

I'm so grateful to have found this website. While, logically, I know the answer to my problem, I can't seem to find the strength to make the break.

I've lived with my boyfriend for just over a year now. We actually reconnected via Facebook after no contact after more than ten years. Though thousands of miles apart, after talking on the phone for about a month, he moved to my home. We were both born and raised in the same town, though he's several years older than me and had a brief relationship before I moved out of state. The brief relationship then was secretive because we are of different ethnical background and the small town we're from is very prejudicial, particularly then, not to mention our families.

In any case, he lived in a big city for several years and had returned to our hometown at the point he found me on Facebook. I paid for his ticket here. He had no job, no money, no resources, and he has an incurable illness, but I loved him still, or thought I did. Now after a year of supporting him, I'm deeply in debt and out of resources myself. I have a young son who adores him and calls him dad. My boyfriend is great with my son and seems to care deeply for him.

There's so much to this story! So much has happened, there's no way to tell you all of it here. The short of it is, he is always texting, chatting, talking on the phone with other women, particularly exes but strangers as well that he meets on Facebook. With the exes, there's a lot of "baby" and "love you", sex talk, etc.

One ex in particular claims a lot of his attention - lengthy phone calls when I'm at work; texts throughout the day, often until/after we're in bed at night; sexual pictures and videos. This woman has become an obsession with me. She knows about me, cause I've seen comments in the text messages about me. My boyfriend will says things like he can't talk to her right then cause I'm there, etc.

I contacted her once myself; my boyfriend was so angry! She lives in a big city so he doesn't and hasn't seen her in person for couple years. He mentions that other exes won't have anything to do with him, which he seems to feel regret over. I know he's talked to at least one about how he loves her and wishes they could work it out, all while with me and talking with the woman from big city.

He loves all women, pretty much. We've had ugly fights over all this. He's says I'm insecure, that it's just talk and means nothing, that he's always been this way and if I can't deal with it, too bad. It's so hurtful! I feel like maybe he stays with me because I put up with it all - support him when he's not working, the other females, etc. his family apparently tells him I'm the best thing that ever happened to him. He used to say so too, but now he seems resentful. He often says he was going back to the big city, but it sounds like the implication is "if I hadn't let you talk me into coming out here and now I'm stuck."

He can be so loving, but it's as if the thing with other women is an addiction. Is it an ego thing? I know enough from things he's said that he's often been rejected because of his illness and a couple of times he's asked if I'm going to get tired of him like all the rest. He's working part-time finally, but he has difficulty finding a good job because he never stays long-term anywhere - a few months here, a few months there. He's receiving heath care through the state thank  goodness, but if he stays with me and gets sick, I'll have to take care of him.

I feel somewhat trapped and obligated because I paid for him to come out here and don't feel like I can tell him to get out, because he'll have no where to go here, has no money, etc. I just can't do that. Despite it all, I love him. He never apologizes and seldom says he loves me unless I say it first. He's going home  for a family reunion this month and I've considered telling him not to come back or not unless he cuts the other women loose.

He's not all bad, but it's as if there's some sickness in him that I don't understand. He takes great care of my son, takes him to and from school, cooks most of our meals, helps with the house, cuts the grass, cleans the car, has a wonderful sense of humor, and I could go on. It's just the other women thing and he thinks it's ok because they're in another state thousands of miles away. I need the financial help, as well, but it's secondary at this point.

I know I can't continue with the emotional hurt, what it's doing to me, but at the same time I can't bear the thought of being without him.

Help please!



The goal of this website is to give support to people who are feeling depressed and unhappy with their lives. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.


Maria's Reply:

Why is It So Difficult to End an Unhealthy Relationship?


Dear Friend,

Thank you for your letter, I am sorry to hear about your pain. I am very glad that you found this website and decided to write to me. The fact that your boyfriend is communicating with these other women even though he knows how much it hurts you is very rude. You wrote: He's says I'm insecure, that it's just talk and means nothing, that he's always been this way and if I can't deal with it, too bad. This statement tells much about a person: Even though you say that this man is on the other hand a very loving companion, this comment shows he is unable to put himself into your position. An empathetic person would not say such things to someone they love.

You wrote: I know I can't continue with the emotional hurt, what it's doing to me, but at the same time I can't bear the thought of being without him. Dear Friend, you have just summarized the main problem of people who are trying to end an unhealthy relationship. Most people who are in a toxic relationship know deep inside that it is not good for them and realize they would be so much happier if they left their partner, and yet they find it very hard to walk away.

You said you still love your boyfriend despite everything. I understand so well the conflict that you are facing, I have experienced exactly similar situation. I loved my spouse dearly, but he was unable to take my emotions into account and often behaved in cold and rude manner towards me, especially regarding other women. Interestingly, he used to say the very same thing your boyfriend is telling you: You said your boyfriend told you "If you cannot deal with this, too bad" (referring to his communication with his exes). My ex spouse used almost exactly same words when I told him I felt hurt when he took other women out to dinner and bar when I was not in town (he claimed these women were just his friends, but still ended up kissing them, sending emotional texts etc). I knew I should have left him, but I felt I loved him too much to let go of the relationship, and so I tolerated his rude behavior for several years before I finally found the strength to leave.

I know how hard it is to walk away from someone who one loves deeply, just as I know due to my personal experience that it is possible to love someone very strongly even though that person is acting cruel and disrespectful. Now as I look back to my relationship with my ex, I realize that had I stayed, I would have been very miserable because my ex would not have changed his ways. Based on your letter, the same appears to be true for your spouse: He is behaving in very disrespectful manner towards you regarding these other women. That is not the way we behave towards someone we love.

You mentioned that he has an incurable illness. That can have something to do with the way he is gravitating to all these women, however it does not justify his bad behavior towards you. Even if we are terminally ill, it does not mean we are entitled to start treating people around us in cruel manner. I do understand that you feel you should stay by his side, especially because he is ill, but you need to also think of your own well-being and that of your child. If you allow yourself to become depressed due to his bad behavior towards you, it will not serve anyone's interests.

How to find the strength to leave

Dear Friend, I understand how difficult your situation is. I am glad that you started your letter by saying While, logically, I know the answer to my problem, I can't seem to find the strength to make the break. I feel strongly that you are right, and the best option is to walk away because it seems clear that your boyfriend is unable to take your feelings into account. I understand how difficult it is to leave him, not least because of his illness. But you need to put yourself and your son as a priority.

As I mentioned above, if you remain with this man and he keeps on threading you like this, you might become severely depressed. If you become depressed, you are not able to take a good care of your son. You can use your son as your motivation to leave. Even though you said that your boyfriend has a good relationship with your son, I am sure your son would not wish his mother to remain with a person who is treating her badly. Your son is still too young to fully comprehend these issues, but as he grows older, he will see your relationship in a different light. I am sure you would not want him to think that it is alright to remain in a relationship if one does not receive respect that one deserves.

Dear Friend, I understand that you love this man and would not wish to leave him. The only thing you can do is to try to make him understand your point of view by either talking to him yourself or then asking him to go to see a counsellor either alone or with you. If he refuses to go, or if he agrees to go but does not change his habits, then you are left with only one option, which is to walk away. Please do not sacrifice your life and your happiness for this man. Even though you say he is a loving companion when he is not misbehaving, it is the big picture that counts: You should not be with  a partner who cannot treat you with kindness and respect.

Please write to me anytime you wish. I will help you any way I can to get through this difficult time in your life.

Warm hug,


It helps to know we are not alone. To read more stories of people who are experiencing problems in a relationship, visit section Personal Stories.


If you wish to submit your own story to get feedback and support or if you wish to contact me for any other reason, please send me email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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