“My boyfriend won’t let me break up with him”

• What should a woman do about a boyfriend who won’t let her break up with him?

Della Mullins, LCPC:

Well, to answer this question one needs to understand that no one has control over you. Although in a relationship each party compromises and tries to consider the other person’s feelings there are no stipulations that a person has to stay or get permission to leave a relationship.

If you are in a relationship and you are now at a point where you feel that the person who you once loved and committed yourself to no longer suits you it’s perfectly fine to exit the relationship. Explain to your partner that you no longer want to continue a relationship with him. But, understand after you have this conversation that your actions must be consistent with what your words have stated.

Step 1 : Stop making yourself available to him
Step 2: Try to occupy your time with work, or other activities – the best way to mentally move on is keeping busy.
Step 3: Inform everyone in your life that you and he are no longer an item. This will help others see a pattern that you are slowly moving on.
Step 4: Don’t engage in [intimate] endeavors with him any longer no matter what.
Step 5: Keep in mind why you decided to leave the relationship and don’t fall back in a rut.

If after following these basic steps if he still can’t grasp that you no longer want to continue to be with him then you need to start using direct words such as “I”, for example: “I no longer want to continue in a relationship with you” or “I no longer have feelings for you in a romantic way” etc. Once you start directing your words with the word “I” this will help him understand that you are serious and he probably should move on. Usually by moving yourself from the situation and directing your words there shouldn’t be anymore problems.

However, if you have utilized all these steps and he still insists that you are not leaving him and the relationship then I suggest you start informing higher authorities about your situation because he is now demonstrating that he doesn’t care what you are feeling or saying which leads to deeper issues.
I hope this helped all who are dealing with a situation like this.

Rebecca Schiltz, LMFT:

You never need anybody’s permission to remove yourself from a situation or relationship you no longer want to be in. You don’t have to justify your decision or explain “well enough” for the other person to understand. While it’s ideal that a relationship or situation can end amicably, it’s not true that the only options are 1. it ends amicably or 2. you stay in it.

Try talking and expressing your feelings and needs with lots of “I statements.” Be clear and direct. “I’m no longer getting what I want or need in this relationship and so I’m leaving.” If there’s room for trying a different kind of relationship together like a friendship, have an open and honest conversation about that; talk about what you want and don’t want and what the new boundaries would be.

If the other person continues to insist that there is no break up, use firm language and matching behaviors. “I’m no longer interested in being with you. Do not contact me further.” Do not accept more calls or texts from that point.

We have this illusion that boundaries are about setting rules for other people but that’s not the case. Boundaries are for ourselves to clarify what we will and will not invite and allow in our lives. So set the boundary of no longer having this person in your life, and live that way. It’s most respectful if other’s abide by the boundaries we set, but they certainly won’t abide by our boundaries if we aren’t either. For example, if you set the boundary of not being in the relationship anymore but you continue to respond to texts, calls, visits, etc, you aren’t following your own boundary and nobody else is likely to either. Be clear in your words, actions, and follow through.

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