My Suicidal Lover
First up, is the realization that threatening suicide to get what you want in a love relationship is fundamentally sickness. There is no way to rationally explain the need for this kind of behavior in love. Then why does it occur? Because it is an extreme way of securing ‘control’ over someone.
Before discussing the use of suicide to control a lover, let’s talk a little bit about suicide itself. In my clinical experience there are basically four (4) different forms of suicidal behavior. The first and most destructive is the ‘successful suicide.’ These individuals usually have a plan, suicide in isolation from others, and cannot be deterred. The actual percentage is small.
There are ‘accidental suicides’ where someone died by accident considering suicide but without the intention of dying. Then there are ‘manipulative suicidal gestures.’ Like our suicidal lover, these are the people who use suicidal thoughts, feelings, and actions to manipulate others to get what they want.
Then there are ‘expressive suicidal thoughts and feelings.’ These are people who have suicidal thoughts and feelings that are symbolically expressing the emotional pain and unhappiness they’re feeling.
When someone cares about you and loves you, it is possible to manipulate and control him or her through the emotions of fear and guilt. The suicidal lover creates and reinforces the worry that something dangerous will happen to him or her if compliance is not given. You will do what I want or else.
But that’s not all. There is the guilt feeling that occurs when opposition to the demand being made is attempted. Look what you’re making me do. The ‘victimized’ lover is now to blame for whatever happens to the suicidal lover. Neat trick, right? Let’s spell it out. If you don’t give me what I want I want, I’ll kill myself, and you’ll be to blame for what happens to me.
I called the lover of a suicidal person under these circumstances ‘victimized’ because he or she is being abused. Whenever there is this kind of manipulation and control over another person in a love relationship it is abusive. The fundamental right to freedom and choice is being blocked by the sick needs of another person.
What are the emotional and psychological issues involved? The suicidal lover has a malignant dependency on his or her lover. What is a malignant dependency? A dependency is malignant if a person becomes self-destructive, hurtful to others, or both, to maintain the dependency. In the case of the suicidal lover, he or she threatens to die if his or her lover leaves.
In my experience, the dependency issues I’m referring to have a long history and are the consequence of poor, neglectful, or absent parenting during childhood. This left a painful emptiness that some person try to ‘fix’ by controlling a lover. Unfortunately, dependency needs cannot be fixed by controlling others. The cure lies in changing yourself from the inside out of you by grieving childhood disappointments and learning how to live as an adult person in a healthy love-life.
As the ‘victim’ of a suicidal lover, you are promoting your suicidal lover’s dysfunction by maintaining a codependent relationship with him or her. What this means is, by trying to adapt to your lover’s suicidal behavior and the way it controls you, you are helping to maintain it. Your illusion of keeping your lover alive by doing what is requested of you is only prolonging his or her difficulty and your own. A limited tolerance for this behavior on your part and an insistence upon appropriate mental health treatment are the only way to get real help.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan