Dear Harlan: I’ve been in a relationship for three years. My girlfriend is threatening to hurt herself if we break up. How can I get out of a relationship with her? I don’t want to cause her to hurt herself.
Dear Man: You didn’t cause this. You are not responsible for her mental health. When a partner uses threats to keep someone in a relationship, that person needs professional help – not a boyfriend. If you have a relationship with her family, let them know what’s happening. Encourage them to get her the help she needs. If she doesn’t have family, confide in a close friend and explain the situation. Talk to a therapist who can help you direct her to experts and resources. Make sure she has the number for The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255. At the same time, find people in your corner who will guide and support you. I know you feel responsible for her, but you need to take care of yourself. Staying together is just keeping her from getting the help she needs. She doesn’t need a boyfriend – she needs professional care.