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You Asked: Is It Safe For Me to Leave Him?

Dear Sugar,

I'm in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend of three years and I'm not happy. He's older than I am, has a low-paying job at a grocery store, lives at home with his parents, and plays video games all night long. I'm still with him because I know how much he loves me and I'm all he has. I feel like if I were to break up with him, he'd harm himself or even end his own life. I know this because he's had suicidal problems before he met me. I feel trapped and he's got marriage on his mind for the future. What should I do?
—Cornered Casey

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Cornered Casey,

Since you're so unhappy in this relationship but haven't left him yet, I'm concerned that this is a co-dependent relationship. Have you talked to him about the way you feel? Has your boyfriend ever threatened to commit suicide before, or are you just scared about the possibility that he will? Relationships are supposed to be based on love and respect for one another, so if you're unhappy and feeling stuck or guilty for something that he might do, it's time to make a move.

I understand that it feels good to be loved and the thought of being alone can be really scary, but look at how alone you are now in this relationship? Since he lives at home with his parents, I recommend you talk to them and make sure they are aware of the situation before you do anything, just in case. Since he's thinking about marriage and you're trying to find a way out, it's clear that you aren't on the same page. Staying for the wrong reasons will just cause more pain down the road, so follow your gut instincts and do what's going to make you happy. I wish you both luck.


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I'm pretty sure this is a common problem. Most of the time we just overthink things. He'll probably be okay without you and won't harm himself. If you break things off with him but let him know you will be there for him as a person than things should be okay. If you are only leaving him because of his situation maybe you should help him get his life in order. If he was willing to let you help you could help him look for a better job and an apartment and it might make your situation better.
Meike Meike 9 years
Leave. Whatever happens to him afterwards is not your fault. My ex was somewhat like yours and I felt trapped in that situation but I finally had the courage to say I was done with this worthless relationship. He pleaded, he cried and and he begged with me to come back. Of course, it slightly ate at my conscience and I felt guilty when I should not have. Luckily, around the same time, I had found someone else that was my perfect match. It was easy to say 'no no no' to the loser.
carak carak 9 years
i was in a similar situation 2 years ago. break up with him. it'll be better for both of you. my ex was suicidal/depressed & gave me all the typical lines "i can't live without you" and things of that nature. he's still alive, and he's actually applied himself and moved out of his parents' house, etc. you're not gonna ruin his life if you break up with him. and don't take him back if he starts making life-improvements either. he'll just resent you for breaking up with him in the first place.
binkyob binkyob 9 years
I was in a situation very similar to yours. My BF and I were together for three years, he worked as a delivery/warehouse guy for a furniture store, and we both lived with his grandmother. He would tell me that I was his everything, that he loved me, couldn't live without me but when it came right down to it he really only cared about himself. We always did what he wanted to do, and any free time he had he was playing video games. I pretty much lost my idenity. I was so naive and had such low self esteem that I really thought I couldn't go anywhere. I was stuck with him. Then with the help of my sister I dumped him. He FREAKED out. He told me all of these crazy things that he had done to himself, what horrible drugs he was doing, and how he was just a shell of a man without me. I ended up going back to him, and staying with him because he always threaten to kill himself. I stayed for another miserable year. Then I realized what everyone else has said. I thought I was in happy becuase of the few loving moments we had, but I was so depressed. I was in a realtionship that was going no where and I had to get out. You can try to talk to him, but if he is anything like my ex, he probably won't listen. I think the best thing for you to do is just leave him. I know that is harsh, but you can't put him in front of your happieness. You need to worry about you, and let him take care of himself. He is a grown up and his own person. I really wish you luck, and hope the situation works out for the best.
emalove emalove 9 years
I agree with're not happy...are you willing to settle and live your life like this?? I understand why you are worried about him, but if you're not happy, you have to move on. I'm sure if he knew you were staying with him because you feel like you have to, he'd be even more devastated.
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
Are you willing to do this for the rest of your life? I don't see how you have a choice.
michelleannette michelleannette 9 years
trust me, he will be fine. it sounds like he needs more than you are able to give him. he needs a mental health professional, not a girlfriend anyway.
clareberrys clareberrys 9 years
Are you unhappy because of where he is in his life or are you unhappy with him all together? If he was a successful, well paid man with a nice place of his own, would you still want to leave? If the answer is no, then why are you breaking up with him? I would say you need to TALK to him. Tell him that (if this is the case) that you love him and you want to be with him, but that it is affecting you because you are constantly thinking about how he isn't going anywhere. You are having trouble thinking of a future with him because as of now this guy has no future! Maybe you should say that you don't want to see him until he has his life somewhat together. Or if that is too harsh, you can say that the only way you will continue to be with him is if there are changes made. At first it seemed like your problem was that he wasn't at the place you would like him to be in life, but then it seemed like you were just unhappy all together. Figure out why you are unhappy and go from there.
Jeng112 Jeng112 9 years
I understand your feelings. You can't ( I repeat CAN'T) stay in a relationship that is unhealthy, but you still care about him, and don't want to see him struggle or hurt. The other writers are correct, you are not responsible for his happiness or level of depression. I agree with Dear Sugar's response, tell his parents what you plan to do, and the level of concern you have for his mental health. Has he been seeking any treatment for his depression? Do his parents have the number for his doctor if he becomes a danger to himself? Do they know what warning signs to look for when it comes to suicide? If you are really concerned, then just make sure the people who make up his support system are aware. Don't get sucked into staying for fear of the "what if's", because the longer you stay the harder it will be for the both of you.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
How can he possibly have marriage on his mind if he still lives with his parents and works in a low-paying grocery store job? Don't let yourself get trapped in this situation. The longer you let time pass without saying something, the more harm you are actually doing to him, as well as to your self. You can't cater your life to his. He has to live in reality. And in reality, grown-ups work hard and get a job that provides for themselves. You and his parents are sheltering him too much. You need to just sit down, be honest with him, and tell him you have to move on... And explain why. He needs to be woken up to life.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
You need to take care of yourself first. Do you really want to stay with someone out of pity? It will only make you resent him more and could lead to WORSE issues.
cretinhop cretinhop 9 years
That sounds jut like boyfriend. Older than me, little ambition and really immature emotionally, and addicted to video games. We've been together for 18 months, and living together almost that whole time. Eventually I got fed up and told him that I was worried that he was way too complacent and capable of more and that if things didn't shape up, it was over. Complicating the whole issue is the fact that I met him in Hawaii, where his whole family lives. We live in New Hampshire and he doesn't really know anyone. We only have one car too. It's really tough. Right now we're going to couples therapy and it seems to be working. When things first hit the skids, I had no idea what to do. Now I've come to realize that the only person that I'm responsible for is me. I talk to him openly about this now. I told him that he in no way is all set, and just because it's been over a year doesn't mean he's set forever. He actually told me he was proud of me because I'm finally comfortable enough with myself and independent enough to take care of me.
marcella marcella 9 years
I think you have to take some responsibility for this disaster of a relationship. Why have you stayed with this loser for three years? What is it about you that is attracted to such a person? I think you need to break up and move on, but truly do some soul searching about what you want out of a partner. Because, you are obviously not such a successful judge of character.
Tinybubbles_21 Tinybubbles_21 9 years
I have to agree with Marci. Don't stay with him if he has suicidal thoughts. I was once in a relationship with a guy who had depression, lived with his parents, used drugs... eventually he went to rehab and thougth he was better.. I kept on staying because i was also afraid of him hurting himself. and i could never have lived with that guilt. I tried to break up with him once and he almost killed himself infront of me. so once again i was a dummie and stuck around. All along i knew he was bad for me but it was only a matter of time until i eventually snapped out of it and gave him the boot. I had to be selfish and think about myself first. So i left the country and went on vacation and even after i got back he still wanted to get in touch with me!! But by then i had labeled him as a PSYCHO and didnt want anything to do with him. My advice is put yourself first, dont let him drag u and ur feelings around!! It's not worth it!!
emmebeth emmebeth 9 years
You need to do what is best for you. It sounds like you want and deserve something better out of a relationship. If he still lives at home, he has his parents watching out for him. Don't lead him on and make it worse for the both of you in the long run.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
If he lives with his parents, then you are not the only thing he has. He is responsible for his own life and decisions.
Marci Marci 9 years
DO NOT stay with someone because THEY have had thoughts of suicide. I had a boyfriend who kept saying he'd kill himself if I left him and I stayed....and stayed......and stayed. It didn't matter one iota to him that I wasn't happy. It was all about him. You cannot take on someone else's psychology or issues or live your life in anyway that is strictly for someone else. When I finally made the break with him, he carried on for awhile but he had a new girlfriend pretty quick for someone who swore he couldn't live without me.
onesong onesong 9 years
i would speak to him first, and then speak to them, and i think the best way to do so is to write them a letter. let them know how much you love them, and that you care about their son, but it wasn't working for you. explain that you're worried about his mental state, and alert them to the fact taht you think he might do something to himself. they're his parents, and they can watch over him. this will also give you the peace of mind that you didn't leave him all alone.
kythera kythera 9 years
I'll tell you what, I dated a man that was depressed, and living with his parents. I moved in, and soon enough I popped up the topic of moving out on our own since I felt we were financially ready. His response was he wasn't ready. I decided to not only break up with him, but prove to him I could live on MY OWN and moved out. He realized that I was right, and that it's good to take on changes. Your bf does sound manipulative, and I would do the same thing as in my experience. No man is worth dragging me down, which is what he is doing to you. You are not his mother and he is an adult, you are not responsible for him. You need to break free and change this. You shouldn't get that wrapped up in him. NO man is worth it. I'm not a man hater, I'm actually married to the guy that was living with his parents. Some men change and actually grow some balls. But I've been in enough stupid relationships to know the difference. I never repeat the same cycle. I don't cave into bf's ridiculous behavior.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
You are not obligated to stay with someone because you don't feel they are emotionally stable enough to handle a break-up. I completely understand why you are worrying, I've been in a situation like this. He sounds like a selfish person. I'm sure he's very nice, but this just is not your responsibility to make sure that he doesn't hurt himself. You need to have a really serious talk with him and explain that it's not working anymore. Let him know that you can be there for him as a friend if he can handle it, but no more than that. Also, don't let him use suicide and guilt to keep you around after you've broken up. If he starts making threats to hurt himself, cut him off immediately, and let one of his close friends or family members know what's going on so maybe they can step in.
boxem180 boxem180 9 years
this is going to sound harsh but whatever he does after you break up is not your fault. he's an adult and is responsible for his actions. if he hurts himself, it was his decision and is in no way your fault. the only way this is going to be your fault is if you let it drag on and on just because you're scared to leave. i don't know if i'd talk to his parents about this like dear suggest but it may be a good idea if you really feel he'll hurt himself. honestly, it sounds like he's just manipulating you like he has been his parents. think about yourself first.
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