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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Want help with your most important relationships? Licensed Marriage/Family Counselor.
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I keep finding myself in the same relationship over and over

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I keep finding myself in the same relationship over and over and don't know how to end this. I am gay and have been with my girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, whatever you want to call her, for over 3 years now. Everytime I try to leave something happens and we end up back together again. It's a really, really bad situation, she is unpredictable with cops even being called sometimes and I am stressed out all of the time ,,,and everyone says I've changed since I've been with her, and I know that's true...I'm not sleeping, have lost too much weight, and feel like there is no point do I finally get out of this? I feel like it's probably not going to end but I know I can't keep doing this, I'm ready to break. Last night I let her come back and I shouldn't have, I ended up with a black eye today
Hi sorry to hear that you are so painfully stuck.

Please give me some additional information so I can be of most service to you.

Did you get any love from your mother or father as a child? What was and is your relationship with them like? Who, besides your current GF do you have in your life for moral support? Are you financially dependent on your GF? What skills do you have? What are your strengths? Have you ever considered going to a shelter for battered women?

Do you have any physical disabilities, any mental illness, chemical dependency?

Thanks for the additional information.

Mark Manley
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hi...and thank you very much for your response. My father actually died when I was about 3 and my mom remarried my stepdad. My mom and I have never been close, but not because I haven't wanted it or tried. She could get very angry when I was growing up and sometimes get a little out of control as well. Sometimes she could seem loving but I never knew which mom I was going to get, and that really hasn't changed. I came out to her not that long ago and that has just made things even worse between us and the conversation ended with her basically telling me I was going to hell. I don't really have a relationship with my stepdad one way or the other, he sort of just stays out of things. My sister is probably my best friend, and I have one close male friend (who is gay as well), but other than that I'm not really close to anyone else. My GF gets jealous and freaks out when I spend time with anyone else so even if I did want to have more friends it wouldn't work. And that's actually what the last fight was about, her thinking I was having sex with or going to have sex with a girl I have known for a long time (and have no interest in that way) just because she texted me about going to a club.

My GF makes a lot more money than me but I'm not completely dependent, it would be hard though without her though, I just work at a medical office basically answering phones, that sort of thing. I didn't finish college and I don't really have any skills. I don't even know what to tell you concerning strengths because I don't feel like I'm really good at anything, except maybe getting along with most people and avoiding any kind of argument or fight...although I'm obviously not even good at that when it comes to my GF these days. I haven't considered a shelter because to be honest I'm really feeling embarrassed about the reason for black eyes and marks and it would be really hard to tell someone, I'm not sure I'm able to do that right she would find me and I'm just afraid that would make everything worse.

I have no physical disabilities but I was diagnosed with severe ADHD a long time ago and according to the last neuropsych eval that hasn't gotten any better. I take Adderall and I'm also treated for mood problems with abilify and wellbutrin. I used to abuse alcohol and have a past DUI charge but haven't had a drink since I was 21.

I hope that helps and I wasn't rambling, just let me know if I missed anything, I appreciate your help

You weren't rambling you were giving a very good response to my questions; so clear and concise. See there is one of your strengths, you are a clear writer, don't underestimate this skill.

Great job getting off alcohol.

Good ole ADHD that is a burden to bear but you are probably largely used to it.

Sorry about your less than close relationship with your mother and the loss of your father at a young age.

As you know your GF is a toxic person. Not that she is all bad it's just that the bad is so destructive that it is a net loss for you. Or in other words the good does not outweigh the bad.

You will have to get stronger within yourself and have a stronger support group before you are ready to leave her but I believe that day will come.

You need some therapy/counseling to help you become the strong confident person you will progressively become. You need to find a compassionate and caring female therapist who can help you fill in some of the areas you missed out on as a kid. Find some one who is OK with your sexual orientation and who won't freak out about your abusive relationship and demand that you leave your partner as a condition of working with you. Also someone who can understand and deal with ADHD.

Asking you to leave your relationship now is kinda like asking you to jump off a cliff. As you get stronger you can safely climb down the cliff to solid ground instead of jumping into the abyss.

How does this sound to you?

Mark Manley

Mark Manley and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I think what you said makes sense and finding a therapist is probably, more like definitely, something I need to do. I really appreciate it that you understand where i'm at and i'm really, really glad you didn't tell me I should leave her right now actually. Thank you for putting my mind to ease, I think it just feels really good to have someone actually understand , it makes me feel like things can get better, I was feeling pretty sad earlier...thanks again :)
You are so welcome. Thank you for the nice bonus!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi and sorry to bug you's just that I started wondering today if you thought it would be possible, if my GF ever agreed to counseling (which I already know she won't at the moment, simply because she would freak out if she even found out I was talking to someone about our relationship)...BUT, if she would agree to it in the future, is it possible she could change and we could have a less violent and less chaotic relationship? Does that ever happen? I still love her, even though I do know she is toxic...but at the same time I know the craziness/violence has only gotten worse over time so I also know it can't continue like that forever....these are the confusing things that go through my mind on a regular basis
People change and feelings change. There is no guaranty that she will but you be sure to change and see what happens with her along the way. You can start with asking her questions, that are designed to open her up to new possibilities i.e. Are you happy with our relationship? How do you feel when we fight? Do you think we can fix what is broken by our selves? When a person is having trouble solving a problem when is the right time to get some help? Don't ask all the questions at once. If she gets angry or defensive or puts you down you can ask, 'does that question bother you'? Why?

People who bully others and people who won't receive help from others are very insecure inside, try to remember that when she is all big and bad.

You need to be loved.

Mark Manley
Mark Manley and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX given me a lot to think about and a good place to have been more than helpful and I really do appreciate it...
You are welcome.
Please be careful. If she is threatening violence back down and remember if you are in a dangerous situation that you fear will get out of control call the police.

I don't want you or her to get hurt.

conflict is ok violence is not.

Take care.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hi again...I have been dying to get more discussion and better communication started with my GF for so long, so I have already tried asking a few questions... but it does feel like walking on egg shells when I even try to head that direction. She always acts like I'm attacking her, even when I am trying to be as neutral and non-accusing as possible. When I even brought up the possibility of getting outside help, to help us be able to solve some of the ongoing issues, she got very upset and wanted to know "what do you think is wrong?", "why do you think we need help?", "don't I do enough for you already? Why are you never satisfied?" I couldn't help it and had to bring up that giving your GF black eyes and bruises was NOT normal...which made her get very angry and say "don't you even try to blame me for that" and called me a few things I won't repeat but basically called me a whore for cheating on her (a long time ago, which had nothing to do with what we were talking about) and also tried to make it like I was the crazy one, since I'm the one who takes I did what you suggested and backed off at that point and everything calmed back down and she acted like nothing happened between us a half hour later, which is how it almost always is with her. Do you think I should just keep trying? And at some point she will see where I am coming from? I really don't want to give up on us, I'm just really frustrated I guess...

Good job bringing things up. Good job backing off. Good job not letting her make you crazy with her crazy behavior and perspective. Good clarity.

Next time you engage her in this kind of communication you can work towards how much you must have hurt her when you cheated on her. She will either agree or minimize. If she minimizes then you can say "it wasn't that bad but you gave me a black eyes and bruises over it, how does that add up? See what I mean we don't make sense, that's why I think some outside help may be helpful." If on the other hand she agrees that you hurt her badly then you say "that's where I think we may need some outside help I really hurt you, and you have a lot of anger towards me, and I don't blame you, we need some help to heal."

Now you may not accomplish all of the above in one communication session so take as many as you need.

She doesn't sound like she is anywhere near letting a third party in but you can always try. As you try you are developing your relationship skills regardless her level of receptivity.

You go Girl!

Mark Manley

Mark Manley and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you :)) your encouragement and your great insight are things I've needed for a long time. I'm feeling much more positive and hopefully my confidence will grow along with that. I plan to get counseling for myself even if she never agrees
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

One thing that she does when she is angry is call me names, usually along the lines of slut or whore, so I asked her about that, trying to open up a conversation about why she does that...and is she still hurting from when I cheated on her with another woman (btw, technically we were broken up at the time)...well, she down played being hurt about that, like you said she might, but then went on to say that the fact I was with guys in the past made me the names she calls me. Ok, so I was with guys in the past, but BEFORE I was with her! So how does that make sense? I didn't even know how to argue back with that one so I just went quiet, like I usually do, and let her win in that sense...

Doesn't make sense to me, is that because I am largely gay ignorant, or is she just not making sense? I don't know. Good for you for confronting the name calling and with great form. Don't feel bad that you went quiet that is a good thing to do when you don't know what to do. Now when the time is right you can pick up where you left off and ask her about what she meant that you deserve the names because you were with guys in the past. If she responds like you are stupid: you can confront her on that and say,
"are you acting like I am stupid because you weren't making any sense and you don't want to admit it." (ask this innocently and sweetly, don't act scared, but do stand back a bit.) I am glad your feeling more positive and your confidence will grow as you continue. I look forward to hearing from you .
Mark Manley
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I really like your insight and advice...I'm waiting for a good time to approach her with this, hopefully some time tonight, I really want to start the new year off right in this relationship...
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I really like your insight and advice...I'm waiting for a good time to approach her with this, hopefully some time tonight, I really want to start the new year off right in this relationship...anything to avoid what went on this past year..
Sounds good, but it takes time to change, especially when you are not looking for change, and I don't think she is looking for change. You can have high expectations of yourself but not too high for her. When there is a power imbalance in the relationship, as there is in yours, the person with the most power is the last one to see a need for change. Keep going forward to be a healthier you but remember, to have a healthier relationship it takes two. We will see what she does.


Happy New Year
Mark Manley and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Happy New Year to you too:)

Last night started out good and she was being ver sweet...she even gave me a back massage which she hasn't done in a long time. But then her friends came over and she started drinking and that combination is never good, at least where I'm concerned. She gets mean so I didn't bring up what I was going to because I didn't want her getting violent. From past experience having her friends over doesn't make a difference and in fact some of our biggest fights have been when her friends were around ...which is especially annoying considering I'm not really allowed to have my own friends so there is never anyone to take my side. You are right, I need to work on myself and not obsess so much about her changing.,,,
You are doing great!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Sorry I'm not sure if I should be asking this as a new question or as part of the same stream? My gf and I finally had somewhat of a real conversation today and she told me I frustrate her and that is part of why she gets so angry. I asked what she meant and she said that I constantly have to be told things, that I never remember and that I don't listen. All of that is probably true but it's not because I'm trying to do those things on purpose...and actually I do things like have sticky notes as reminders, it's just that that doesn't fix everything and she has no patience with me. I also can't find words, when we argue especially, so I feel like I can't express myself the way I want to except with writing, and obviously arguments are verbal. She says no one would put up with me the way she does, and I sort of wonder if that's not that far from the truth. She is the way she is but could I really do better? We have been together for a while now, and she has stayed with me. She also said by the way, that she calls me the names because she thinks that's what I was before I met her...that I was with a lot of guys...but I also know that to her just being with 1 guy is a lot. When I do get counseling, will it fix those things that are wrong with me, the things that frustrate her? Because if I frustrate her won't I just frustrate anyone I was with next if something happened with us? I think I worry because I feel like I have always frustrated my mom as well, and feel it would be hard to love me.

You did just right continuing on the same thread.

Good job on your talk with your partner.

Just because you are frustrating doesn't give her license to hit you or put you down. She has a right to get frustrated and irritated but no right to abuse you.

Counseling will help your ADHD behaviors in some ways but not all.

Your partner has given you a perfect reason for suggesting the two of you pursue some counseling together, namely, "I want you to go with me to counseling to help me learn to be less frustrating to you and help you learn how to deal with my ADHD disabilities."

Don't rush it. You are doing great.

By the way written arguments can be effective too, they don't always have to be verbal.

So good to hear from you and to hear about your progress.

Mark Manley
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hi Mark, it's been awhile so a few things have happened since I last wrote to you.


My GF has not gotten any easier to live with, but I did set up an appointment for myself with a therapist. I hopefully have found a therapist who is all of the things you recommended (you said ‘someone who is OK with your sexual orientation and who won't freak out about your abusive relationship and demand that you leave your partner as a condition of working with you. Also someone who can understand and deal with ADHD')


I think I have a lot to figure why do I keep putting up with things like bruises and black eyes, and maybe worse some of the stuff she says to me? A big part of me would like to leave but a bigger part I think is afraid to do that. For one thing I don't know how she will react, and for another I do rely on her for a lot, as much as I hate that about myself. She could, just, get really out of hand and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. Do I need a protective order? I don't know. What I do know is that I have no support from my mom who doesn't think I should ever have been in this relationship to begin with...since I'm going to hell for being gay.


I think I have a lot of questions about everything but I'm not sure I'm expressing them very well to you...I'm just feeling really confused right now, about my future, about everything, maybe overwhelmed too...And I do know that when I am feeling overwhelmed I tend to do nothing as opposed to try to do something to help myself. On a more positive note, now that I am being compliant with the Adderall, as my doctor says, and have been for a while I have had no desire to drink again in spite of all this...

Am I making sense or just rambling now?



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