the “crazy” girlfriend

Reader J.J. writes:

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I think my girlfriend is crazy. Not the “all girls are crazy” type of crazy, but the “she might hurt me” kind of crazy. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her car outside my house a couple times. When I open the door to check, the car speeds off. I would confront her about it, but like I said, she might hurt me. I want to break up with her, but I’m sure you get the idea. I’d also like to get her help. But mostly I just want to live. How do I break up with a truly crazy woman without, you know, dying?

Dear J.J.:

I wish you would have provided me with a few more details. Just because you’re seeing cars that pull away when you open your door, it doesn’t mean your girlfriend is out to get you. I understand you want to break up with her, but I can’t help but wonder if you’re just being paranoid, or having delusions of grandeur.

It’s quite possible you’re not paranoid at all, of course. Or at least paranoia isn’t the end of your problems. As the old adage goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Have you recently done some kind of shady “business” with someone who said they would be calling on your services at a later time? Maybe you’ve done something that could warrant wire-tapping from the FBI, CIA, or IRS?


This is the image that comes up when you search for "crazy". Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What I’m saying is, if your girlfriend hasn’t actually threatened to kill you, maybe she’s not actually out to get you.

Nevertheless, being afraid of your significant other is not okay, regardless of why you’re afraid of them.  Fear, being a feeling, is an irrational response, but you should take fear seriously when you’re feeling it. If you truly are concerned for your safety, I would say do a few things:

– Break up with her via email or text, and make it as short as possible. Don’t respond if she goes off on a crazy rant. Tell her it’s over, that’s final, and you’re not negotiating. I’d say a phone call would work if you have to, but really talking to her in a live manner could be worse than just ending things in the safest, most distant manner possible. Be brief and be direct. And move on.

– Make sure you’re somewhere safe if she goes berserk. Stay at a friend’s house for a few days, or with your parents, or go out of town entirely. If you really want to stay at your own place, make sure you have someone staying with you. Don’t be alone when you don’t have to be. Even if people think you are being hysterical or over-reacting, it is way better to be doing either of these things than to be confronted with someone who is trying to kill you.

– If you simply have to be at your place alone, keep your doors and windows locked, and make sure someone knows to check in on you (friends, coworkers, family, whatever). Don’t make it a secret that you’re worried for your safety. Again, even if people think you’re the one who’s acting crazy, that’s better than them having to attend your funeral.

– If your girlfriend has actually threatened your life, report this to the police. Get a restraining order. The police will be much more likely to take you seriously when/if something does happen if you’ve already made them aware that you’re actually afraid for your life.

– Do whatever you have to do to make yourself safe and get her out of your life. I know you say you care for her and want to help her out, but if she’s focusing on you as a target, you’re not going to be able to help her very much. The best thing you can do is help yourself and cut her out of your life. Get a new phone number, block her number, block her email — extricate yourself as much as you possibly can. You don’t want to provoke her or allow her a chance to cause a scene. Make sure you’re not somewhere she can find you, at least for a while.

– Make it a point to make your worries known to people who know your girlfriend. They can help her once you’re out of the scene, and they can also be on the lookout and warn you (and police officers) if they think she’s going to do something out of line. And if she’s not actually out to get you, they can at least comfort her after you break things off.

– Talk to a therapist.  If you really are paranoid (and I mean developing paranoid schizophrenia), you can talk with a doctor who can help you manage it before things get out of hand. Mental illnesses are no laughing matter, and if you are suffering from one, you probably can’t judge that for yourself. But on top of that, most therapists also have a lot of resources that could help keep you safe. And you’ll feel better after talking about your crazy girlfriend.

I hope this is all in your head, and that you can break up with your totally sane girlfriend. But if not, please make sure you take every precaution you possibly can. Domestic violence is no joke, and all of us should be willing to stop things before they get out of control, even if it means being embarrassed to appear weak. I’ll say it one more time, just for the record: better to appear weak than to be dead.


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