Toughing It Out’s situation [“Is My Boyfriend Trying to Get Me to Dump Him?”, May 1] sounds eerily like my prelude to an abusive relationship, which was long-distance for the first two years. I know you said you were avoiding telling anyone to break up in your columns, but I second your advice. Toughing It Out, you deserve better and should cut ties as soon as you can and not waste any more of your time. Look up the cycle of abuse, gaslighting and hallmarks of a codependent relationship, and see what fits and what doesn’t. He is afraid of being alone, but he doesn’t want to be with you, either.
Thank you so much for your second opinion. In the early years of this column, I was fresh out of some truly toxic relationships, and “dump him” was literally the first thing I typed out in every response. Years later, I can see that I was letting my trauma influence a role that I didn’t take quite seriously just yet, and nowadays, it’s very important for me to speak from a less reactionary, more thoughtful mindset.
Still, we’ve gotta call a spade a spade here. The gaslighting by this guy was just so evident, and it was also obvious to me that he was being vague and demanding purely out of spite for his own partner. Why be in a relationship with someone who either turns you off or holds you back? I’d ask her to find the value in keeping a partner who treats you more like a burden than a lover.
And remember, a partner doesn’t have to physically harm you in order to abuse you. He’s purposely undermining her self-esteem and taking out his frustrations on her, and that’s abusive. He’s no good. Dump him!
I just wanted to drop a quick line saying that you give fantastic insight. Even when the situation isn't necessarily pertinent to me, your take on things inspires me to be as forthright and honest as I can, while still considering the feelings and thoughts of other people. And your frank approach on mental health has been personally inspirational. I'm no longer afraid to discuss my own issues when the time calls for it. Thanks for that! Your column rocks!
Thank you so much! Feedback like this means a lot to me. I’ve been doing this for some years now, and at first, I really saw my column as social capital and a nice little paycheck to earn every month. I’m proud of the way my approach to this column has evolved over time, and I deeply appreciate the trust this community has in me. I’m so honored to be your anonymous ear or shoulder to cry on, Athens!
Mental health talk isn’t easy, but I think it’s worth pushing through the discomfort and being honest with people about what you’re going through and what you need from them. Being honest with friends and lovers about where I am mentally has been a challenge at times, but it’s worth it in terms of finding people who are willing to invest in a relationship with an imperfect person—and we’re all imperfect.
The honesty in this column parallels my own personal journey with mental health. In the early days, I humblebragged about doing drugs while telling y’all to DUMP HIM GRRL!, and at that time I was not taking care of my mental health in any way. I’ve been diagnosed with some real doozies since then, and I’ve developed self-care techniques that work for me: exercise, eating well, taking my meds, regular talk-therapy sessions, wellness journaling, solo date nights and luxurious femme pampering, like 24-karat gold face masks and rose-scented bubble baths.
Personally, I think the quality of my advice has improved because my life has improved. I care about myself now, and that means I can better care for the world. Mental-health care looks different for all of us, but prioritizing our mental wellness is essential. We can’t lift each other up if we’re down on the ground ourselves.