Dear Taz, (The Street Therapist)
The short version is: I’m hugely fond of a girl, but she has a history of depression and erratic behaviour, family think that she’s bad news. Previous relationship with her ended badly for me. Recently started seeing her again now she seems to have sorted herself out, but would jeopardise relationships with family to continue.
The first time
We’re 20, at two different universities about 150 miles apart. We met online on a forum we both happened to use. We hit it off immediately. Before long we were talking on Skype for hours at a time. We’d planned to meet up for a day. She starts talking a lot about trouble with her housemates. She’s just transferred there and was a bit stuck for accommodation, but she really doesn’t get on with them. She quite clearly hates it there. I invite her to stay with me at uni for the weekend to get away, an offer that she accepts. We get on every bit as well as I’d expected, and the next morning we kiss.
The second time
Back at uni, she’s living with a friend most of the time. She’s got a load of clothes there and is sleeping on a sofa, to get away from her housemates. She also tells me about her ex of 18 months, who she broke up with 8 months previously. We’d arranged to meet up two weeks after the first meeting. We spend hours just sitting in my room talking, hugging, kissing, completely happy in each others’ company. On Saturday night we have sex for the first time; on Sunday she meets my family when they visit.
She tells me that the friend she’s staying with is her ex. She still thinks of him as a close friend, but he still loves her, which isn’t reciprocated. I’m OK with this situation as if there was anything going on between them she wouldn’t be going so far out of her way to see me. However, she doesn’t want him to know about me, which rules out me seeing her at her uni. She’s afraid that if he knew she was seeing someone else, he’d end the friendship with her, taking two other friends with him, as he wasn’t really over her. It’s a situation I don’t fully understand but I trust her as seeing me is the difficult choice. He seems to be her only stability at uni.
The day after, we’re talking on Skype late at night. She opens up to me about a lot of stuff in her life she never really talked about before. She was raped halfway through her first year of uni, and one of her best friends attempted suicide. She herself has tried twice before, most recently around Easter last year. Until she was 13 she lived with her mum and stepdad who were very neglectful, even abusive, and her dad won full custody through the courts. She suffered from depression and eating disorders, and was badly bullied. Following the breakup with her ex (he blamed her for when she was raped), she got into a short and almost abusive relationship with someone else, leading to serious trust and commitment issues with me. After this, her mood crashes and gives way to severe depression.
The third time
The next weekend we’d planned that she would come to my house. On the Friday morning she asks me to go on Skype, where she tries to break up with me. I talk her out of it and she drives to mine that evening, visibly depressed, and tries again to end it. I talk her out of it. The downside to this is that we spent all the time at my house sitting in my bedroom, much to the annoyance of the rest of my family. I don’t find out until much later, but neither my parents or sister like her.
The fourth time
At my house again. I drove to her house to pick her up (hiding this from her dad) and bring her back to mine. On the Sunday evening, instead of going to uni and dropping her at a train station as I told my parents I would, she comes back to uni with me. The next day we drive back to where she lives and spend hours stalling saying goodbye for hours, thinking we won’t have a chance to see each other again for a few weeks. My parents are concerned about my happiness as her mood is putting me under a lot of stress, and my dad is concerned about my work. I talk her into trying antidepressants and they make her much worse. She books a counselling appointment, and skips it after a bad experience with it a few months before. She still won’t tell anyone about me still in case her ex finds out, or tell her dad about her depression. She says she’ll talk to her stepmum, but doesn’t. She won’t accept help from anyone. She never really dealt with all the issues mentioned previously.
The fifth time
She’s seriously depressed one evening. Again she tries to end it with me. She spends half an hour cutting herself. After some persuasion, she drives to see me at uni, arriving at about 2am. She’s in a bad way mentally but the cuts are very minor. The mutual friend visits to try and help me convince her to get help, unsuccessfully. She leaves the day after feeling better but the goodbye is cold. She phoned an hour later feeling bad about it, and met me on my way home to talk for a bit before carrying on. She feels she can’t cope with the commitment of a relationship. Back at uni, she’s fallen out with her ex and isn’t talking to him, and is living at her home not far away and commuting to uni. She toys with getting a flat on her own, and is very unsettled. I find out he wasn't so much an "ex", but they were on a break while she sorted her head out, and that by seeing me she had basically been cheating on him.
The sixth time
It’s a week later. After spending a whole day on Skype with her talking about ending it completely with me, and both of us very upset, I agree to meet her in a town she knows halfway between us. We check into a B&B. The next night we buy a cheap duvet and sleep together in my car. We have a really nice time but it feels like the end. She can’t promise she’ll see me again. I’m pretty crushed at this point and haven’t been myself for a few weeks.
The seventh time
We make half-hearted efforts to move on but still have strong feelings for each other. She sees someone else but ends it very quickly acknowledging that he was a rebound. After the last meeting my parents are very glad it seems to be over. I’m heading to London on the train to see some friends for the evening. I make a diversion on the way to go near where she lives so we can meet and talk. It’s awkward. I leave her hours later, and she phones straight after, crushed that I left. It seems that at any time one of us wants it to work, while the other is afraid of it or wants to move on. My mind is all over the place coming back and I tell my mum I’ve seen her, which she’s really annoyed by. She doesn’t tell my dad as he’d be furious, apparently.
A couple of weeks later she sends me another “goodbye forever” message. She hints that she’s homeless; I ask about it and she says her dad’s kicked her out and isn’t paying her rent at uni any more, so she has nowhere to go and will sleep in her car that night. I tell my mum who says she can come to my house if she’s stuck, but I don’t tell her this yet. I don’t hear much for a day, then she says she’s moved into a new flat. She stayed with her ex the first night and seems to have patched things up with her dad, all in about 36 hours. When I tell her that I told my mum her situation, she gets really angry that I tell her too much about her and that it's not my mum's business.
The eighth time
For a couple of months neither of us really move on or want to, and we stay in touch. She seems to be getting a lot better and she’s her normal happy self again, and gets great exam results. I tell my mum I want to see her again. She’s very against it, and on her advice I stop talking to her completely.
A week later I’m back at uni. I’m busy and out all day one Sunday; I find a dozen missed calls from her and a voicemail from the mutual friend asking me to talk to her. I get back to my flat and she’d driven the 150 miles to meet me, looking for “closure”. Despite everything, that’s never truly been what I wanted, so she came in and we chatted for ages and got on as well as we’d ever done. I knew my parents wouldn’t like it when they found out but we got back together. We slept together, and agreed that she’d come back the next week. Everything I’d seen over the last couple of months suggested she was so much better. We got on brilliantly and it was so great to be with her again. She knows what a mess she was a couple of months before and is really sorry for the stress it led to for me, but she wants it to work out.
The ninth time
She drives to mine at uni again, except I’ve planned it with her this time. We spend two nights together. I’ve been hiding it from my family, and she’s scared that as soon as I tell my parents I’ll have to end it. At this point I really want it to work out with her because to get on as well as we do is really rare, but I worry about what my parents will say. I’m very close to them.
Today I tell my mum about the first time recently we’ve met up. She’s annoyed, and thinks I’ve made a big mistake getting back together, and that my dad will be furious if he finds out. Her and my sister agree that this girls behaviour is seriously unhinged, bordering on stalking, and suggest changing my phone number. They’re telling me to break up with and completely move on from her, saying that’s the best for me, but I’ve just been so happy recently that I really don’t want this.
So now I don’t know what to think or do. I really like this girl; she’s had some major issues in the past though seems to have moved on from them, but no doubt her behaviour is still very unusual. On the other hand, to get back together with her would jeopardise relationships with my whole family. They think she’s bad news and are sure it will never work. So who’s right?
1. She's living with her ex. This is wrong from at least two perspectives. She can't really be over him if she's seeing him everyday, and they might still be intimate involvement. On the other hand, if she's over him and he's not (from what she told you) that's just all kinds of crazy and misleading. If she's still fucking dude what makes you think she won't do the same to you one day?
2. She doesn't get along with other people. Not being able to have at least decent interactions with other people is a huge no-no! If she's like that now, she's always going to be like that. It's always going to be her against the world, and in time she might start finding flaws in everybody including your friends and relatives. As we are social beings this is very stressing and counterproductive.
3. She's harms herself. One hell of NO-NO!!! She's doing it to impress others, to manipulate others or because she's plain immature, or maybe all of them... Who knows? But this is no good. She's unstable and she should get some therapy. <-----*HINT HINT* lol
4. Your family doesn't like her. Have you asked yourself why? Maybe they are more objective in seeing what happens to you. When you are in the middle of everything and also blinded by a need for affection and intimacy it's hard to be objective about your situation. Of course they don't know everything about your relationship but they can tell how it's affecting you. You may look stressed, be more irritated, tired, you may start to isolate from others in order to protect your relationship. My advice is to talk to them and listen to their reasons, this doesn't mean you have to do as they say, but at least hear them out and decide for yourself what to do next. Another point of view can help you sometimes see things in another light. And one more thing: in the long run you may want to be with someone that respects your family.
5. She hides your relationship. Why would you stay with someone that keeps you in the shadow and away from the other people in her life? The main word here is "Transparency". When you are with someone you may want to show it to the world to be proud of your partner wherever you go, whomever you meet and it should be the same with the other person.
6. Home problems, but not only. Although it is a very altruistic thing to do, it is not your job to be her "knight in shining armor". This is mostly in the books and not in the real world. Let her solve her own problems and come to you as a whole person, not a wreak (her and any other partner). You may want a partner that can manage on their own, and doesn't need you for every bump in the road. This way you can build trust and be able to evolve to be the best person you can be. When you enter a partnership it should be something where you gain more than on your own (and I don't mean great sex by this). This is a very rationalistic point of view, but think of it like this: if you give more than you get in return what will happen one day when you will run out of things to give?
7. Another guy? Did I get that right? While she was involved with you, she tried dating another guy? Dude, grow a spine! She's taking you for granted. If she can't appreciate you for who you are and respect you than "kick her to the curb." If they are not like that right now, there's small chance it's going to change overnight. Ask yourself this: a) Can I be with this person forever, rely on them, trust them, fight the demons from hell at their side? b) How do I see my life with this person in 5-10 years time? c) What do I want from life, and where does it fit in my current relationship?
8. Hundreds of lost calls, messages etc She's stalking you alright. Do you leave so many message when you can't reach someone? Probably you wouldn't call more than three times at best and not one after the other. You call, than maybe leave a message explaining what's all about and then let the other person come to you. It's plain wrong to pressure someone like she does.
9. You've started questioning everything. This is also a sign, and in this case I'd say a good thing you did. It means you're not satisfied with the situation even if you don't completely comprehend why.
From my point of view, it's not just the relationship with your family at stake here. It's your own sanity as well. Relationships with troubled personalities (and she most definitely looks like one) interfere with every aspect of your life: educational, professional, social, health.
If I was you, I would get away and leave her be, but you might not be prepared just yet to do that. So my advice is to find books about relationships, hear what your family has to say about it and ask for their reasons, also try talking to a friend who's been though relationships and ask him to tell you his 2 cents on things you have doubts about (note that some guys won't tell you because they don't want to jeopardize your friendship if you promise it won't then stick to it afterwards, this is also a way friendships grow). It might be a good idea to take some time for yourself, away from her (and I mean no contact) it might give you more clarity on the whole situation. Also work on your self-esteem it will help you realize that you deserve the best you can get.
In the end, it's up to you to make a decision, because you have a responsibility to your best friend i.e. YOU.