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Ask an Advocate: I’m Afraid to End My Relationship, What Do I Do?

January 12, 2017

Through our Ask an Advocate series, we’re answering common questions about domestic violence that survivors and their family members may have. Read them all here.  

Dear Ned,

I’m dating a girl, and while my family and friends are cool with it, her family is pretty homophobic, and so we’ve had to keep it a secret from them. I’m okay with that, but she gets very clingy and controlling. She wants to know where I am all the time. She tells me that I need to dress a certain way, and once she threw away all my lipsticks because she didn’t like the colors on me. She texts me in the middle of the night, and I feel like I have to respond because she tells me that I’m the only one who loves her and accepts her as she is. She gets really jealous whenever I talk to anyone else, whether they’re a guy or a girl. The other day she secretly went through my phone to check who I was talking to. I kind of want to break up with her, but I’m worried about what she’ll do since she says she’ll kill herself if I ever leave her. What should I do?

Sincerely,

I Wanna Break Up

Dear Ned

Dear I Wanna Break Up,

It’s not okay for your girlfriend to be so controlling of what you wear and who you speak to. It’s also not okay that she makes you feel like you always have to immediately respond to her texts and that she went through your phone without your permission. I understand that it’s tough to want to break up with her when you feel as though she might not have anyone to turn to. But it’s totally okay to not want to be with someone anymore. While it is understandable that you’re concerned about her, you also need to do what’s best for you. Given what you’ve shared, it makes sense that you’re worried about how she will react.

If you feel comfortable and safe with her, you can try to tell her that it is not okay for her to do the controlling things she has been doing, and that it’s not okay to invade your privacy. A healthy relationship includes respect for each other, and she needs to allow you to have space for yourself.

It’s tough to worry about your friends and family not accepting you, so having someone to talk to could be helpful. You could suggest that she talk to someone who could help her figure things out. She could call the GLBT National Hotline for peer support at 1-888-843-4564, or she could also reach out to the Trevor Project (they provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBTQ youth) by phone, chat, or text. Depending on how you feel, you could offer to be with her when she calls, so that she feels supported. You could even give those two organizations a call to get more advice for yourself.

The behaviors you mentioned are common abusive behaviors so it is important to trust yourself in how they make you feel. If you aren’t comfortable in the relationship, trust that. If you don’t feel safe with her or safe enough to break up with her, trust that too and talk to an advocate at a local domestic violence program near you or by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or chatting with them through their website at www.thehotline.org. It can’t hurt to give yourself more information so you know your options and can feel in control when making these decisions.

Sincerely,

Ned


Read more in our Ask an Advocate series.