I hope that you can help me, as I know you help so many others. I’m 31 years old and divorced from an abusive husband. I met my current boyfriend on a Jewish dating group on Facebook when I was so desperate and had nothing. He’s completely different from me in every way, but he gave up everything to take care of me and be with me. He, along with his mom, opened his home to me. I very much want to get remarried and I have a specific future for myself that I’m not sure he’s ready for any time soon. I get triggered by certain bad things he does to me, and I find myself feeling as if I’m not a good person and I’m not living up to my full potential religiously.
He’s literally taken care of me but he’s not a social person like I am, and he has a very military personality that scares me. I don’t feel my needs are being met, but he’s a rare gem.
After eight months with him, I don’t have that soul-to-soul connection I seek so badly. I find it hard to leave as he’s supporting me in every way, but I just feel there’s a lot of immaturity and he has a lot of control over me, and you can be sure that I am afraid of him. But I don’t know what to do. I really feel stuck because I need him to take care of me.
He’s made so many sacrifices and I should feel grateful, but I’m not. I even get upset over silly things. Do you know what I mean? I feel he has no empathy and no love for me, even though he’s trying, but he’s still very much a child and very irresponsible when it comes to things that I feel are important in a serious relationship/marriage.
Are my standards too high? Is this normal? And is it normal that when he gets angry, he punches a mirror? Is it normal he does things that he knows will annoy me and chooses to do it anyway?
I recently assisted a woman who experienced a situation similar to the one you describe in your letter. Your dilemma is so serious that, with her permission, I am sharing her story so you can glean strength and take a lesson from it.
This woman had been victimized some time ago by a man who was not her husband, and she was continually tormented by this perpetrator to silence her. Being in an extremely vulnerable state and emotionally drained, she allowed a controlling, militant type of man with a longstanding history of abuse into her life because he promised to take care of her and make her troubles with that perpetrator disappear.
In the beginning he was her knight in shining armor coming to her rescue. She ultimately became totally dependent on him and did not make any move without his approval. It got to the point that she literally couldn’t make a move without his approval because he monitored her via the location tracker on her phone. He even synced her phone to his so that her calls, texts, and e-mails were under constant surveillance. She was emotionally putty in his hands, and she described feeling like a caged animal. This progressed to name calling, accusations, destruction of her possessions, public shaming, and eventually physical abuse, too. She tried to end the relationship a few times but always returned because he terrorized her with threats, and at that low point in her life she was completely dependent on his assistance.
This lethal relationship came to an end when she confided in someone this individual strongly respected about everything he was doing to her. Extremely embarrassed, he then walked out on this woman and told everyone that he ended the relationship to cleanse himself of any talk of wrongdoing that may be directed at him. In conclusion, not only was this woman suddenly left to contend with the first perpetrator who is persistently harassing and persecuting her, but whatever sense of dignity she still had was shattered by the second guy who abused her. Worse, he joined forces with the original perpetrator to be part of a team so that he can now dupe everyone into thinking that anything she says is untrustworthy, and he even managed to get a few people who are going along with his deceptively false narrative about her. Throughout her ordeal, this poor woman felt as though she no longer had a soul left, and certainly no soul-to-soul connection to him, as you express. There is no way you can have a connection with a person who abuses you.
I am sharing this tragic story of evil so that you can see why you need to break away from your boyfriend—before he does serious damage to you, physically, emotionally, and socially. No good ever comes from a relationship that starts because someone promised to rescue you from a situation. Cinderella stories are not real. Even when they appear to be real, they are just fairytales that have no happy endings. You need to gather a support system and get as far away as you can from this man.
Other than someone working for a chesed organization, no human being is going to put himself out on your behalf (like this guy) unless there is some benefit for the person. So while you might have been thinking, “What a great guy he is to take me in” and that he is a “gem,” the reality is that for whatever warped reason, he needs you more than you need him.
Read what I am writing very carefully. If this guy has any sort of bad reputation, you will be the one to cleanse him of that. To the world he will show how he went out of his way to help you, but when he is done with you (and I assure you that will happen), regardless of his reputation, you will become his evidence of innocence for any past misdeeds. He will make sure that you come out looking bad, and when it transpires, it will feel as though it came out of left field.
I sense that you are at the point where you are recognizing that you are not being treated right. Your reaching out to me is indicative that you are gaining strength. He is undoubtedly sensing that and is likely planning a storyline about you for when he will permanently discard you.
You need to leave NOW. Block him from ever contacting you again. If he manages to find you, do not believe any affirmations of love or commitment. It’s a ploy of manipulation. Call a friend, relative, or even a shelter. Anything is preferable to being with him for even one second longer.
I sincerely hope that you go for therapy to learn healthy boundaries. Do not blame yourself, as you were in a bad place in life when you were drawn in by this man’s promises to you. You sound like you are at a low point in your life, and you are probably afraid of losing your boyfriend and whatever sense of security he makes you feel by staying with him. He brought you down to an even lower level of self-esteem, self-confidence, and sense of self-worth than before.
If you are thinking that things will get better, they won’t. If you remain with him, you will not only develop mental and emotional symptoms you didn’t have prior to the relationship, but you will get physically sick, too, G-d forbid.
You are still ahead of the game because you now have awareness. That is the first step. In addition to reaching out to me, please do research via books or online, join a support group for domestic abuse, and talk to friends, a rabbi, or anyone who will one day be able to say that you reached out to them while you were suffering. By doing all that, things will make more sense to you and the pieces of your life that are now all over the place for you will start to fall into place in the right way. You will also recognize that you were a victim of circumstance, and not the problem. You did not bring this on yourself, even if you might have demonstrated neediness. Make it your chant and start believing that he is future-faking with you, regardless of what he is saying. You have no reason to stay with him.
I see this relationship ending for you even if you do not take my advice and leave on your own. You are beginning to show resentment, and that will increase his anger. Thus far, he punches a mirror. You will be next, G-d forbid. He will punish you in whatever way he feels you deserve. He will also be afraid that he will be exposed and shamed, so he will do whatever is necessary to shut you down. That is when it will get downright dangerous. If he threatens to leave or he does leave, resist the urge to reach out to him, even if you need his help. He will absolutely use that against you, guaranteed.
This situation has now become the beginning of the end. Please heed my warning. Your boyfriend will discard you, or he’ll torture you until you are so damaged that you will have no choice but to discard him. There is no happy ending here. There is nothing to save about this relationship, except your life. This relationship needs to be terminated ASAP. Leave now!
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for vinnews.com, Israel News Talk Radio, WVIP 93.5 FM HD2, and talklinenetwork.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.