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Do Ultimatums Work in Relationships?

Group Therapy: I Want to Give My Boyfriend an Ultimatum

This question comes from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

Have you ever been so fed up with the person you love that you've wanted to threaten to leave them or present them with an ultimatum, just to get some sort of reaction out of them?

My boyfriend has been driving me nuts lately — it feels like some days, he'll systematically find every way he can to shoot down every positive thing I try to do and say. He's been making bad decisions for his health, isn't looking for a new job despite being laid off recently (and he started that job knowing he'd be laid off after a few months' work), and is just generally being one of those grown-ups who still lives in their dad's basement that I never wanted to date.

He's depressed, which I know contributes to a lot of this, and has decided to wean himself off of his antidepressants and stop seeing his psychologist! I know this doesn't help, but I'm his girlfriend, not his mother. I can't make him take care of himself.

I'm just too frustrated. I love him dearly, and I know he loves me. But lately I've been feeling horrible. I can't leave him alone because I know (from experience) that if I don't put effort in to getting ahold of him, I'll never hear from him. He's just not the kind of person to be very dependent on others. I feel like if I walked away right now, he wouldn't try to stop me or tell me that he wanted me to stay, even though he's told me many times that he wants me in his life. He cares, just not enough. What do I do?

Have a dilemma of your own? Post it, anonymously, to Group Therapy for advice, and check out what else is happening in the TrèsSugar Community.


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dikke-kus dikke-kus 5 years
These kind of things will not bode well for a relationship or a marriage. You can only sit back and let him help himself.
MissSushi MissSushi 5 years
I say you should walk away from this. If he is dealing with depression to the point that he is on medication and seeking counseling, and has decided not to any longer, but is not in a healthy mental state, theres not much you can do at this point. You can't force him to do it, and he probably wont have the motivation to do it on his own unless he gets his problems back on track and under control. My husband has severe depression, so I know the kind of life this can be for the partner, but ultimately it has to be his decision. You can support and encourage him until youre blue in the face, but he has to make the move.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 5 years
I agree with Pistil. Ultimatums rarely, rarely, rarely work. It is exactly what she said. "I'm leaving you if you don't stop this." "I'll stop and it will be better, I promise!" Repeat, repeat, repeat.
MeiGaku MeiGaku 5 years
i completely understand where you are because i was there a couple years ago. i was with an ex for two and a half years who loved me and whatnot, but was just unmotivated to the Nth degree. he was 22 and i was 20 and all he did was sit in his room (still lived with his mom), did not work or go to school, and just sat around playing computer games. so eventually i realized that i was going somewhere and couldn't be with someone who didn't go along for the ride. it's unfair for you to drag your bf along. you really need to move on--no matter how much it hurts right now.
lickety-split lickety-split 5 years
you need to leave him for your sanity. but be ready to really do it when you tell him you are leaving. the holidays are almost here. do you want to be with a depressed person, or do you want to be without a date on new years eve? those are the 2 choices. if you "leave" and then come back, this could go on for YEARS. so pick your time carefully.
lickety-split lickety-split 5 years
you need to leave him for your sanity. but be ready to really do it when you tell him you are leaving. the holidays are almost here. do you want to be with a depressed person, or do you want to be without a date on new years eve? those are the 2 choices. if you "leave" and then come back, this could go on for YEARS. so pick your time carefully.
medenginer medenginer 5 years
A reality check is in order for him so let him hear it. Sometimes life sucks but you live it. You pick yourself up; work a job and become a productive member of society. If you see no results shortly you leave because he has given you no other options. Don't waste time and effort on a relationship that you will be the parent in. Sorry to sound harsh but it might be the kick in the pants he needs.
katykat1980 katykat1980 5 years
It's much easier said than done, but maybe giving your guy time to either sort out his life or not, is the way to go. Obviously right now, he is not doing his part to be half of a healthy relationship, and you said yourself you can't make him take care of himself. Maybe in the future, when he has his you-know-what together, things might be right for you- but it's a waste of your life and time to sit waiting for things to get better when you know you're not happy.
kimmieb124 kimmieb124 5 years
You don't sound like you want to leave him, but that may be the option you have to take. You need to sit down and have an honest conversation with him. You still may need to leave him, but it would be better if you discuss your feelings and thoughts with him before you walk out the door so that you aren't left with any questions in your mind that leaving is the right thing to do.
snarkypants snarkypants 5 years
leave him.
GTCB GTCB 5 years
No, an ultimatum will be useless. Don't waste your time. What you have described, and I'm reading a bit between the lines here, is one of those classic characteristics about women (and such a classic situation too) that drives men nuts. We'll never understand why you decide to stick with guys who are losers who treat you like garbage when other guys out there would treat you so much better. We'll never understand because it all comes down to "feelings". It sounds like you are holding onto some thread of feelings for him (you like him/want to be with him) and yourself (afraid of what it feels like to be alone/ending it/feeling bad for hurting him/whatever). And that is enough to keep you in the, ahem, "relationship". I knew someone exactly like you once, who was in a poisonous relationship for years but refused to dump the guy because, well, I never understood why. This situation is cut-and-dried. Get rid of him. Move on with your life. It will hurt at first but you'll get over it. The sooner you do it the less upset you will be in the future over the amount of time you've wasted on this dude.
Pistil Pistil 5 years
I don't know how much an ultimatum will help. "I'm leaving you" "I'll do better I promise". Rinse and repeat.
HollyJRockNRoll HollyJRockNRoll 5 years
Why would you want to be with someone who wouldn't even make the effort it trying to keep you???
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