Dear Thelma: I'm depressed as my boyfriend is ignoring me over a non-issue

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Dear Thelma,

I'm a 21-year-old girl and very upset with my boyfriend for starting a "cold war" between us.

It all started when he asked me about my friend who is a guy. He wanted to know if I was still in touch with him.

I said yes. Although I'm not very close with that friend, I chatted with him because he wanted some help from me.

I clearly explained to my boyfriend that my intention of chatting with my guy friend was only to help him. But my boyfriend couldn't accept it.

After that conversation, he started ignoring me. He didn't want to reply my messages or answer my calls.

I messaged him and asked him if he wanted to talk about it and resolve the matter, but he didn't want to.

I've been trying my best to approach him but he doesn't want to cooperate.

This just makes me really sad and depressed, and I've started having suicidal thoughts.

I'm also scared I'll develop health problems due to my depression.

Anxious over boyfriend

Dear Anxious,

When we're angry, there are two types of silence.

One is a healthy one. This is where you say, "I'm angry, I don't want to say things I may regret, so I'm going to take a moment." Usually it's said with clenched teeth but the intention is super clear and comes from care and kindness.

The other is an unhealthy one. That's where someone acts as if you don't exist. They are cold, they withdraw affection. This is a punishment. It's not honest, it's merely nasty. The intention is cruel.

I will be very clear here: Your boyfriend is toxic and possibly abusive. You have every right to maintain friendships, and you can talk to whoever you like. He's trying to isolate you, and when you won't come to heel, he punishes you.

This is not a good man. You deserve better. Tell him it's over, and walk away.

I suggest you go straight to a therapist skilled in working with relationship abuse. I say this because you did not recognise that his action was cruel and you are having serious mental health issues.

Kind, thoughtful, respectful communication is about being open with your emotions, disagreeing respectfully, being willing to compromise, and accepting that we have a personal identity, and a couple identity. Think she/he and us. This is what you describe as your go-to instinct. It's an excellent method and shows you have a good heart.

Abusive communication is all about establishing power and controlling another through making them frightened of upsetting you, saying mean things to them, and isolating them from their friends and family. The aim is to break their victim down.

As you are sad, depressed and having suicidal thoughts, I suspect that your boyfriend has been working on you. You are in a bad state, and I'm worried about you. So get yourself to a therapist and talk it out.

Please don't ask your boyfriend along! Abusers hijack couples therapy in order to normalise abuse. Your boyfriend needs to work on himself before he's fit for a relationship. Typically, this will take many months, if not longer.

Please don't be tempted to give him a second chance. He has a family and friends – let them deal with him. I say this because too many victims are snared into giving second, third and more chances.

You're young, you don't owe him anything, so just leave.

Work on yourself, and when you're ready, date someone kind and loving, who wants the best for you – and that includes a life filled with friendships and laughter.

Go call that therapist today, OK? You deserve to be happy.

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