Should I Stay or Should I go?


“I am 28 and my partner is 43 – he has two kids (18 and 7) from two previous relationships and we live in Paris, his home city. The 7 year old lives with us and the 18 year old spends all of her holidays with us – I love them both, and although sometimes I pine for the same freedom as my friends (in terms of being able to be impulsive/go on last minute vacations/not always having to plan schedules and activities around school holidays) by and large, I really don’t mind all that much – the kids are great and I’m not that much of a party animal anyway! My relationship with my partner however is pretty tumultuous – he is (and by all accounts) always has been, very moody. One minute he is up, the next he is down – and when he gets down, he gets mean. Never physically, but just nasty – if we get into an argument, it can never just be a discussion whereby two people disagree and talk it out – it invariably immediately escalates to insults/shouting etc. To give you an example: I had my mother coming to visit me and asked if he could help me to get our home ready the night before, he however wanted to go for drinks with his friends – I never usually ask him to amend his personal plans as anytime I have done so in the past, I get called a tyrant…but this time, I really needed a hand. Not going out with his friends the night before her arrival, was according to him “not an option” so we agreed to compromise – he goes out, but comes home early enough to at least help a bit. Naturally, he rolls in close to midnight, tipsy, and when I tell him that I am disappointed, and that I thought we had reached a compromise, and I don’t understand why he couldn’t just this once hold up his end of the bargain – he goes off on one, and starts screaming at me that I am “mentally retarded, have psychiatric issues, should really see a doctor, no normal person would be annoyed by this, he isn’t a child with a curfew and can do what he wants” etc etc. I know this anecdote in and of itself isn’t a big deal and probably sounds like most petty domestic squabbles – but I just feel like, I make all of these efforts and sacrifices to work my 28 year old life around him and his kids (paying for an apartment with two bedrooms/arranging holidays around school agendas/and all the normal constraints that come with living with kids) but he doesn’t make any effort to meet me half way when I need something done (which, because I am 28 and have no commitments – is pretty rare) – and not only that, but it seems like he deliberately goes out of his way to do the opposite of what I have asked, and then relishes screaming at me for rising to the bate. This type of situation happens quite frequently with us – and I have noticed, he acts out the most, specifically when I need him for something that I tell him is important to me. The rest of the time, he is lovely – he is funny and can be thoughtful, he’s kind of a big kid in a lovable way – I don’t want to portray him as some abusive monster because he isn’t like that all the time. Usually at worst, he’s a bit like a teenager – you know, he’ll sulk if you ask him to not leave his clothes in the middle of the floor etc. I guess my problem is twofold – first, I wish he would make the same efforts for me as I do for him and second, I wish we could resolve this inability to disagree about something, without it immediately turning into a vicious world war 3 type argument which involves him unearthing every negative thought he has ever had about me as a person – because it hurts my feelings and is embarrassing when we are out in public or in front of friends.”


There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it. You’re in an abusive relationship.

The pattern you have described is a classic pattern that will, over time, escalate.

You have basically stated that there is already isolation and verbal abuse happening, both in private and in public, and have alluded to potential addiction and alcohol abuse as well. You have also stated, straight up, that the abuse happens “quite frequently” and that it generally happens when you are expressing your needs in the relationship.

While I may not be qualified to make any kind of diagnosis, I deal with this a lot in my practice and it sounds to me like your partner has NPD, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. What you should do in your situation is Google it and read as much information as you can about the disorder and see how many of the classic symptoms your partner displays. You should also read up on the classic symptoms and patterns of an abusive relationship as well and see how many you and your partner fit into.

From your description of your life with him and the classic pattern of abuse that he has started, I would say that it is definitely in your best interests to leave as soon as you can. He will never meet you half way, he is not the teddy bear that he shows you when he is getting his way, and you need to stop letting him off the hook and making excuses for him. This pattern of abuse only gets worse over time and has the potential to lead to more serious forms of abuse. Also, those who have been in a long-term relationship with someone with NPD actually can suffer a form of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after leaving such a relationship.

You need to love yourself and value yourself enough to get out as soon as you can.

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