Reaching Out for Help
This sounds like a very complicated situation given the personal issues your boyfriend is dealing with, the problems in your relationship with one another, and the fact that the two of you are living together and parenting a one-year-old child. TeenHealthFX will do our best to give you some thoughts on the matter, but we do think that it is very important for you to speak with someone about the situation. Someone who can get a more detailed description of what is going and the history between the two of you and someone who can get a sense of where you are at and what are ready to do so that they can provide you with the guidance and support you need. You could speak to a family member, your primary care physician or your child’s pediatrician, or you could meet with a reputable mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist in order to figure out what you want and what you need to do to get there.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
As for our thoughts, TeenHealthFX wants to start by saying we are not sure when you said “abuse” if you meant that your boyfriend has a history of having been abused or that he is abusing you in some way. If you meant that he is abusing you in some way, then it is very important for you to reach out for help with this immediately from professionals who are specifically trained to deal with these kinds of situations. If you are in an abusive situation, FX is very concerned about the well-being of you and your child and strongly encourages you to get help right away. If you live in New Jersey, you can reach out to JBWS (Jersey Battered Women’s Services) 24-hour helpline at 973-267-4763. Outside of New Jersey you can call the The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). You can also go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) website for information and resources.
Addressing Relationship Issues
If by “abuse” you meant that your boyfriend, himself, was abused at some point in his life and the main issue here is that you don’t have a partner in taking care of your home, your finances and being responsible for your child, then one of the first things to consider is whether this is a relationship you want to continue with or not. In figuring that out it would be helpful to consider how you feel about this man, as well as what your general wants and needs are from a significant other and whether or not you see him as somebody who is capable of meeting those needs.
If you want to continue a relationship with this man, FX recommends that you let him know that you would like the relationship to continue, but that you have concerns about how things have been and continue to be. And that in order for things to work out between the two of you that you need him to attend weekly couples therapy sessions with you. A couples therapist can work with the two of you to help each of you learn how to better communicate with one another and resolve issues that have come up (or that may come up in the future). Depending on where things are at with you and your boyfriend, the couples therapist might also recommend that one or both of you meet with an individual therapist as well.
Given what you describe about your boyfriend, FX can imagine you must be feeling very lonely in the relationship, that it must feel like you can’t rely on him in the way you would like, and that you might also be scared of losing him if things continue on like this. There is one modality of couples therapy which is very successful in dealing with these types of issues. It is called EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy). You can find EFT therapists anywhere in the United States (or around the world), by clicking here.
For more information on communication skills, including how to communicate effectively when we are angry, check out loveisrespect.org.
Ending Relationships That Aren’t Working
If you decide, based on your feelings for this man and from what you want from a significant other, that you do not want to continue in the relationship, then it would be very helpful for you to find a way to end things in as amicable a way as possible given that you have a child together. You can explain to him that you feel the two of you are not able to make each other happy anymore and you think it would be best for the two of you to separate and for him to find his own place. If you feel absolutely certain that this is what you need, it is important to stand firm in the decision. You can certainly be respectful and compassionate towards him about it, but try not to back down from what you feel you really need to be doing for you.
One of the key things regardless of which way you go with this is to make sure you have the support you need. Working through relationship issues can be hard, as can ending a relationship. So no matter what you do it important that you have people around you who can be there for you. Whether those people are friends, family members, or mental health professionals – try and surround yourself with people who will be there with care, warmth, support and understanding.