Oh no—just a psychotic girl!

A man grapples with his difficult relationship



Lissa Mathis

Dear Stacey,

I think my girlfriend is a psychopath. We’ve been dating on and off for several years and recently got back together. Throughout this time she has demonstrated high levels of drama, jealousy, and an inability to control herself while drinking. We both have children from our previous relationships, and I have an executive level job where public appearances are very important to me. I know I’m not perfect but this is unacceptable. You are probably wondering why I continue to date her. Her behavior wasn’t immediately apparent when we started dating, and when things are going well, we do have chemistry. Every time I think I’ve reached a point where I think I’m ready to end things, she manages to reel me back in. To put it bluntly, the sex is very good. What should I do?

Sincerely,

The Struggle is Real

 

Dear Struggle,

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression about insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. You do seem to be in a toxic relationship with a history of problems and, apparently, this is not enough for you to end it for good. In other words, the crazy person in this relationship is effectively up for debate. At no point in your message did you mention loving this person. Perhaps some of her actions are a result of her knowledge that you aren’t committal?

I’m guessing that your highly visible executive role is not in the mental health field. Thus, I would heed caution in trying to diagnose your girlfriend yourself and particularly with the word “psychopath.” It’s best to leave that sort of thing to the professionals since there’s a hefty amount of criteria on the psychopathic checklist. She has certainly exhibited behavioral problems that are not to your liking, and you are entitled to deal with that as you see fit. However, you asked what to do, and I’m going to offer my two cents.

 There needs to be open communication about the previous incidents that have happened. Clear the air and set boundaries on what is acceptable relationship behavior going forward. If you are not happy with the drama and the excessive drinking, you need to speak up about it. If you do care for her and want to stay together and work on this, encourage her to get support in the form of counseling, medication, or a combination of the two, if necessary. In turn, you also need to be receptive of her feedback and own some of your own flaws. My theory is that she probably has some insecurity about your relationship and is likely acting out because of this. You have admitted that you are not perfect, and you have also admitted that you are essentially using this person to meet your sexual needs even though the relationship has gone somewhat sour. If you truly see no future with this person or if the conversation escalates to another dramatic argument, you probably should let her go and move on, despite the “chemistry” you describe. Yes, unfortunately that means not sleeping with her anymore. (Insert Fatal Attraction “bunnyboiler” joke here.)

In all seriousness, people coping with mental health problems already face enough stigmas that can lead to unemployment, poverty, and isolation from friends and family. However, with proper treatment and support, they can recover and maintain productive lives. They are capable of giving and receiving love. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans experience some form of mental illness annually. Many are also dealing with a co-occurring substance abuse diagnosis. In layman’s terms, for every five people you meet on Tinder, one is bound to come with complications. It’s up to you to decide whether or not that is a deal-breaker and what behaviors you will tolerate in a relationship.

I have gone out with men who have disclosed trouble with depression and anxiety, so I am finding it hard to believe this hasn’t been a previous topic of conversation over the course of your relationship. Or, perhaps I’m just a more captive audience? At any rate, the point is that relationships are not one-sided—we all carry a certain amount of emotional baggage. Yes, even you. For some people, that baggage requires a “bellboy” in the form of therapy or medication. When presented with the information, I had to ask myself if that person was actively seeking help and working on himself. I also had to decide if I had enough strength to take that on in a partner or let that person go.

I implore you to dig in and do the same.

Stacey Rowe is a freelance writer based in Rochester. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @thestaceyrowe and at staceyrowe.com.

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