Dr. Eris,

I’ve been watching you on LA Shrinks and saw you on Nancy Grace talking about the Jodi Arias Trial. Both of these shows have been bringing up a lot of emotions for me. I’ve been in an on again off again relationship with my boyfriend for three years. The problem is that I am totally in love with him but the relationship is toxic. We fight all of the time. He calls me names and has sex with other women. Every time I feel like I am ready to leave the relationship he sucks me back in by telling me how beautiful I am and how lucky he is to have me. I fall for him all over again. This relationship is bringing the worst out of me. I’m feeling depressed when I’m not with him and when we are fighting I turn into a crazy bitch. Even though I would never do something as awful as Jodi Arias did to her boyfriend, I can see how a breakup can really break you down. My heart keeps telling me that maybe he will change his mind and the relationship will work out. I just don’t know what to do. Please help.


Dr. Eris Suggests:

Thank you so much for being brave in sending me this letter. There are many women who can relate to being in a toxic relationship where they feel like they are going crazy. You feel as if you are having a break down after your breakup. Your mind might even be telling you that it’s easier to stay than deal with the overwhelming feelings of breaking things off.

Even worse is the cycle of violence that happens. The cycle of violence is basically a tension building phase, a violent episode (whether physical or emotional) and a honeymoon phase where there is rekindled hope and a belief that things will change.

For those of you not familiar with the Jodi Arias case, let me fill you in. Arias is on trial for the murder of her ex boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Their on again, off again relationship was fueled with sex and drama. In the end, Jodi stabbed him 29 times, shot him in the head, and slit his throat from ear to ear. Long story short, Jodi claims that she is victim of domestic violence, and that she killed Travis in self-defense. While the evidence of premeditated murder is staggering, there is little to no evidence Jodi was ever abused. The prosecution in the case has argued that Arias is extremely manipulative, and feared that Alexander was planning to cut ties with her, thus causing her to react violently toward him.

As an expert in relationships, it’s not uncommon to hear stories where abusive situations are a regular occurrence in some relationships.  Many of my clients are in very unhealthy relationships and while they work to stay together, there are some relationships that need to end.  I’ve worked with plenty of clients who end an unhealthy relationship and continue to see their partner periodically in a physically intimate relationship.  While it may be fine for a few, this type of relationship can be very damaging.

Often I hear clients talk about maintaining a sexual relationship with an ex in hopes of rekindling the relationship.  Like many of my clients, Jodi may have believed that one day Travis would change his mind.  He did not.

Learning to get out of a relationship is almost, in some cases, more important than knowing how to be in a relationship.  It sounds like this is the case with you. You need to put your self and your life first. The following are a few tips to help you deal with a breakdown following a breakup.

  1. End your relationship.
    1. No contact.  No social media. Act as if he does not exist… No matter how hard it is, it will pass.  A clean break may be best for the both of you. This does not mean that one day you will be friends, but allow time for yourself to heal and move on.
    2. Create distance.  Do not go to parties, events, etc., where you will run into him.  Make an effort to stay physically out of sight, out of mind.
  2. Get professional help.  Do not underestimate the trauma and difficulty of getting over a relationship that has ended.  Professional help offers an unbiased opportunity to voice concerns, wants and desires as well as provides support and accountability toward moving on. Often there is a pattern of unhealthy string of partners and failed relationships.  If you always end up in the same kind of unhealthy relationship a therapist can often help identify the situations that cause the pattern in behavior.
  3. Get honest.  Identify what has happened that caused the relationship to end in an objective way.  Often an individual will overlook an abusive, and unhealthy situations and pretend it wasn’t that bad in hopes of returning to the relationship.  Be honest about what has happened.  In this case professional help can be a great outlet to provide insight.
  4. Be clear about what you want. Focus on what you want to create in your life from today on forward. Do you want to love what you are doing in the world? Do you want a loving, healthy, safe, supportive partner?  If your answer is yes then it’s time to let go of your toxic relationship and allow some time for healing. Once you focus on yourself you will allow the space to create some very special things in your life.

Good Luck! I wish you lots of love in your life. To your Break Through success!

Dr. Eris