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Toxic Relationships - Break the Mold, or Break It Off - Relationship Advice

Updated on April 27, 2010

Dear Veronica,

I am writing hopeful to receive your advice about my difficult relationship. I am 25 and he is 31.we have been "together" for more than 1 year. It started in a good way. but after 6 months, bad things started to happen. we started argued and had many fights. For more than half a year now we are trying to break up. the patern is the same. If he tells me he wants to break up, I try to make him come back. then i try to leave, and he makes me come back. we do have our good moments as well, but they happen with less and less frequency. we have a great physical attraction and i like him as my good friend too. I love him. and miss him I like his hobbies and share his interests. he likes me too and he told me he loves me as well. on the other hand, there are things i dont like in him and things i will never accept, for example the language he uses ( he says fuck and shit all the time and i dont like that. he knows that and now tries not to say these words as often) i am maybe too shy and sometimes not sure of myself and a little insecure maybe, but i can be the opposite too. he is very emotional and impulsive. and he can get angry and even furious about very small things like me getting lost or asking him if he made a reservation at a restaurant where we were going to go for dinner. i am more calm and i dont understand why he often becomes so defensive or aggressive.

he has been recently divorced and i think it has hurt him a lot. probably somehow he views a divorce as his life failure. he told me that he wants to marry the right person and have kids. he doesnt want to get divorced again. it was very painful for him. in the beginning of our relationship i pressured for marriage. i didnt ha ve the luck to discover your hubs yet :) And i wanted to live with him. now i analyze him in the past and i think that he wanted it too, like once he started talking to me about having a joint account when we will live together. but then it all started to crash. we have been on and off in our relationship. we split then we come back together again and again. i am very tired emotionally from that because i want more stability and i love him, after i read your hubs (it was very recently) i realized the mistakes i have made. (i know he made some too). and i tried to be a new me. i didnt call him or text him and was busy and in a week he called himself. then he asked me out. then he asked me to watch a movie with him. and for the last 2 weeks we were back together and dating and i stayed in his house. and he said he thoughte a lot about me and our relationship and he realized he was missing me alot when we were apart. so i thought that we give it another try. we started planning to go on a vacation together.

i continued to follow your advice, and i didint push him to arrange it and i didnt ask him twice about it. then in 2 days he told me that he will take care of the reservations himself and we were both very excited how much fun we will have together when we go here and started to look for plane tickets with his initiative. in 2 days after that he sent me a text message that he is not happy how we are, it seems for him that i am busy doing my things and we meet only when i have extra time and he thinks he does the same. i replied that i want to spend more time with him too. his answer was: i dont want to be in a relationship because it is unstable and we always crash". my answer was just "ok". i thought that it means we are not going to a vacation together any more. as you say he clearly stated he doesnt want to be in a relationship. we didnt talk after that. and today he told me he booked the flights for us. i was so surprised. so am i his Ms Right Now? and not his Ms Right? I told him i was surprised and i thought that we will not go because he doesnt want a relationship, he said that we never agreed we are not going and that it is just a trip.

i also think that i am not good at communicating. sometimes i am scared of him becoming aggressive and defensive. my head says i should not be with him, but my heart wants to be with him. what should i do? i dont want to break up and come back together again. i want a normal healthy relationship. and i want eventually marry too. someday. i dont say anything about marriage to him now as i myself realize i need more time and want to be sure that he is the one. we are also of different nationalities. Veronica, please help me. i am completely lost.


Dear Helen,

I've read and reread your email, I've let myself sink into the chaotic feeling, and I've stepped back and appreciated your devotion to this man and to your relationship. I have some broad stroke advice for you, I have some mini-micro particular advice, and I also have some encouragement to offer, and some warnings. So bear with me. Here we go.

Helen, you're in a toxic relationship. It poisons itself, seemingly no matter what you or he does. You feed each other's insecurities.

I believe the heart of the problem here is that the two of you aren't exactly whole and strongly developed individuals. You can't be a partner until you can truly be a person.


Your commitment, insight, hindsight and humbleness show me that you're right there. You're almost all the way there. Good for you! I celebrate that. And the things that you have left to work on, YOU pointed out to ME. You said you aren't a clear communicator sometimes. I can see throughout your email the "Tells" that say you don't assert your needs and you put up with too much. This is a major lesson. You know the saying - Why would anyone respect you, when you don't respect yourself? Even in the little ways, when you allow another to be in your presence in an unacceptable way, you are showing them that your feelings don't matter. If they don't matter to you, why should they matter to him.

The big thing I am worried about with you, is why you let him treat you like this. Being afraid to communicate because he will get mad and aggressive, is a horrible way to live, and will lead you right into an abusive relationship: if not this one, than others. 


There are definite issues with him. Things like how he texted that you don't have time for a relationship and maybe he doesn't either. You hinted at other instances where it seems he projects his problem onto you, in a very cowardly way. Instead of just stating how he feels, he tries to convince you that you're the one that feels that way. It's not healthy and it's not honest.

What's much worse though is that he loses his temper over nothing. This indicates some kind of rage disorder to me. No matter how wonderful you are, and no matter how hard he decides to try, this is a condition that needs outside professional guidance. He needs to go to therapy. He needs to do it for himself, and for any future he plans to have whether it be with you, with having children, with having a career, with maintaining friendships, and with functioning as a person in society. I personally know ragers that never got help and live very isolated lonely lives. I also no people with rage issues that after just a few sessions with good therapists learned the tools they needed to screen themselves. It's like anything else - if you have an eating problem you go to Weight Watchers, and they help you learn to measure portions, and make smarter meal choices. He simply needs the same kind of skill set to learn to filter through his anger.

Helen, it is beyond important that you said you are scared to talk to him because he becomes aggressive and defensive. I can promise you, his behavior will become more and more intense and severe as time goes on, especially within a real commitment. If you were engaged or married to him while he's like this, you are giving him full permission to be angry and aggressive and short tempered. You're telling him it's OK to treat you that way. And it's not.


I want to talk a little about the cursing. I'm someone who uses Words, all the time. As a writer, I want the right Word for whatever I'm saying. Sometimes I disregard grammar, etiquette, and society in order to be able to express myself honestly and clearly with Words. Fuck and shit are absolutely the right Words much of the time. If I'm around someone that says I curse too much, I assume they are either 7 years old, or they are just too frigid and fa-fa to be around an earthy gal like me.

When I first read your email and saw this cursing thing, I thought maybe you're too high strung, maybe you need to grow up, and why should he change something so innocuous about himself because you have some anal problem with it.

But then after reading and rereading the rest of your letter, I figured out what you actually meant. To you, the cursing he does represents his anger. It's symbolic of how he disrespects you. Let me put it this way: if he never lost his temper, if he was very respectful and calm, and listened to you, and kept his word, and followed through, and you can feel his calm love and constant commitment, if he said "fuck & shit" a gabillion times while laughing and playing around, like wrestling with the dog or splashing around in the pool, the honest truth is that it wouldn't offend you, would it.

When you know for sure where someone's heart is, and you know you can trust them to remain stable, mature, trustable and calm, you can let lose and stop policing them. However, when someone is so aggressive and angry, when someone has such a bad temper that is set off for no reason, you can't relax. You can't trust them. Like you said, you can't even talk to them, for fear of setting off a landslide. For you, his cursing is a "tell" of his thinking, and his heart.

Your instincts are telling you right. They are telling you it's not OK when he curses. That's because your instincts are pointing the way to his anger and his temper. Even a dog returns to his vomit. He can take you to it and say - here, something went really wrong right here. This means something. And just like you with the cursing, maybe you can't tell exactly what it is, or you aren't sure why this was such an issue, your instincts were right on. It flagged something cancerous.

The only reason I broke this example down, is to show you just one point. It's that the anger and temper thing, is a huge problem. All the things that point toward it, are signs. In and of themselves, they are nothing. Don't focus your healing energy on the signs. Focus on the actual problem. If he curses, don't focus on the curse. Focus on your gut telling you he's about to lose his temper, or that he's angry and has anger in all his choices even the ones where his temper is not apparent.


I very much appreciate the feedback on the relationship skills you've learned in my HUBS, and how you've employed them, and how they've worked. For example, becoming new again, which lead to his wanting to chase you again.

These little enhancements and skills are effective on healthy people that really do want to try to be in a relationship. What your situation breaks down to is, he has a serious problem that he needs to get some help with. And you have to stop allowing yourself to be silenced and disrespected.

I do believe there is real, volatile, passionate love there. But with his anger problem, he has no ability to have a healthy life let alone a healthy relationship without getting some counseling. And no matter how much you love him, and no matter how awesome your insights are, you have to admit to yourself that no matter what, it's not OK to be with someone you're actually afraid to communicate yourself to.

I would love to tell you to end this relationship. But I don't think you'll take that advice. So I will offer this advice instead: He has to get some counseling. And you have to be true to yourself and speak your mind. If you can't, then you have to admit to yourself, that you need to let go.


Do you have a relationship question? Email me through the link in my profile. Thanks!


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  • profile image

    Helen Ma 7 years ago

    Dear Veronica! thank you very much for your reply. you are completely right about everything. i feel so much better now as i can see my relationship from the outside and understand it better.

    i am absolutely amazed by how you could put yourself into my shoes and feel my situation

    i will let you know how things are going

  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 7 years ago from NY

    Helen Ma,

    I'm so glad you commented. I've been thinking about you all day.

    I'm so happy that I was able to lend some insight. Please protect yourself, and value yourself.

    Would love it if you kept in touch.


  • thevoice profile image

    thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

    Terrific terrific great hub work five star thanks

  • profile image

    Helen Ma 7 years ago

    Dear Veronica. I let it go. He is very distant from me know and he blames me that I wanted too many things too fast (I pushed for marriage in the beginning). I told him I realize it was my mistake and that I dont want that and I dont tell him anything about it now. I really dont want it. He cant listen to me. When I try to be assertive and talk calmly he just leaves and he cant listen to me. I realize that he doesnt want to be with me that much any more because he spends a lot of time with his other friends and doesnt tell me anything about his trips, plans etc. and he doesnt ask me about my life either (about my school, or what I did etc) i feel we are just very distant now. i suffer form that. I have to let it go.

  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 7 years ago from NY

    Good luck to you Helen Ma,


  • profile image

    Helen Ma 6 years ago

    Dear Veronica! I am back to the hub you have kindly written for me with the question about the same guy. There have been some changes that I have difficulty interpreting. We did break up. We are no longer a bf and a gf. He said that even before I decided to stop seeing him that he was not dating me anymore and I was not his gf. But we still saw each other about once a week and went on vacation together so it seemed to me like he was my bf. Then as I commented here I ended it. We didn’t see each other for a month. Then we met once. Now we see each other once a week. We still have this great physical connection and attraction, and when he leaves a voice mail he says “I send you hugs and kisses” – I don’t know if it means anything though. He doesn’t say we a couple. He says he is single. But we decided that we would not have sex with other people while we are together like this so it is not an open relationship. I think that we are better now because he is more relaxed and calm. We don’t fight we talk more and he is not aggressive at all as he used to be before. And I am able to speak without fear with him now. Last time when we met after not seeing each other for a week, he said that he missed me. We also had a conversation when he said that he feels some special connection between us but he is waiting for a sign. I don’t know if he is into me. I don’t know if he just gets what he wants from me (sex) and that’s it. I don’t know why he doesn’t say I am his girlfriend. May be because our relationship is still damaged and week. He is the one that calls me to meet with him on his day off. What do you think, Veronica? And thank you for everything!!!!

  • profile image

    Helen Ma 6 years ago

    I read in you comment in “When He Says He Isn’t Ready For Marriage Yet” on a situation when a guy referred to the girl as his roommate while for her they were a couple. You said it is a painful and clear sign that he was not into her. I believe that it is similar to my situation. Unfortunately. I regret that I had hope for this relationship to become something bigger. It hurts to hear him saying he is single when we are together.

  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 6 years ago from NY

    Helen Ma,

    Yea, when a guy is all into you and feels committed to you, he'll tell you. And he'll damn sure tell everyone else. It's like marking his territory, or like Bill Compton says on True Blood, "She is MINE."If he's telling people he's single, or as in the example of that other Hub, if he's telling people she's just a roommate, that is very very clear. He is not a boyfriend, he is not committed, and he wants everyone to know there is nothing between him and her. Very very important to know the difference between what you wish was going on and what is actually going on. Projecting your fantasy onto the situation isn't going to help. Good luck.

  • profile image

    Helen Ma 6 years ago

    Veronica, thank you very much for replying. I am very grateful for your support and help.

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