I am a 22 year old in a relationship with a guy who is more possessive than loving towards me. I don’t want a future with him. However, I’m not able to get rid of him as he will blackmail me that he will die if I leave him. I feel death is the only option for me. Please save me.

Dear Sweetie,

No one who truly loves you will expect you, or threaten you, to act against your best interests. Your partner obviously has issues of his own and, until now, he’s been finding a willing victim in a compassionate person like you. You have a bright future ahead of you and you are going to save yourself so that in a couple of months this will be just a bad dream from which you’ve woken up.

It is common for a victim of emotional blackmail to feel trapped and powerless as you’ve been sacrificing your boundaries by giving in to his threat. His controlling behaviour very likely has led to you suffering loss of self-esteem every time you’ve complied to the pressure he’s been putting on you. It is a cycle you must break. Emotional blackmail cannot work if you stop being a willing victim.

People who use emotional blackmail often feel desperate inside and they justify it by seeing it as a way of soothing their own internal pain. Your partner may or may not be aware of the extent of the pain he is inflicting on you (and indirectly himself), however, it is unlikely that a person with such issues will respond well to reason, arguments or counter-manipulation on your part. You may have already attempted these to no avail. So the way forward is to recognise that giving in to emotional blackmail makes the situation worse.

Focus on your own personal boundaries and be willing to defend them. Emotional blackmail is made up of the blackmailer (him), the victim (you), the threat (killing himself) and the demand (don’t end the relationship). Removing one of the components takes away its power, so as you cannot control another person you must detach yourself.

Remove yourself from the situation. Your own life is all you have control over. Don’t blame yourself for somebody else’s bad behaviour or personal choices. If it makes it easier for you, you may want to speak to his friends or family to keep an eye on him through the breakup or prepare a note with a telephone number for a counselling service. Telephone number 179 is a 24-hour helpline where you can find further guidance, which you may want to jot down for him or even make use of yourself.

Beyond that, just take care of your own well-being because nobody else is going to do it for you and if it gets out of hand, talk to the authorities. Let nobody take advantage of your compassionate nature, this time turn it around and point it in your own direction. All the best.

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