She's Miserable but Stuck
Q: I have been with this man for six years now and it's been nothing but ups and downs. He makes me feel so bad about myself. When we get into arguments, the things he says to me I can't forget. After all this time it's just getting harder for me to be happy with him. I need to escape this relationship but it's so hard because I do really love him and am having a hard time thinking about him not being in my life. I have been feeling really depressed for about a year now and I need some advice on how to escape and be okay without him. -- Kat, 27
Dr. Susan: I don't think you do love him, Kat. You're addicted to the dysfunctional system the two of you have been living in. Sure he's nice to you every now and then. Combine those occasional "ups" with the terrible way he makes you feel during the "downs," and he just about guarantees you'll never leave him. Any self-esteem and confidence you might have had six years ago has long since dissolved in the heat of his emotional abuse. He probably won't change. So what you need to do is get some support, either by talking to a counselor or a trusted friend, and figure out your next steps. Seeing a doctor would be a good idea for that year-long depression. Perhaps the right medication will at least get you moving and help you begin to see things more clearly. You know you need to get out, and just because you can't picture your life differently from what it is now, doesn't mean you can't make a go of it. It's always a challenge to picture ourselves without the people we're used to, even when they're destroying us emotionally. It will all look and feel different when you're away from him.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.