You recently advised on a father’s limitations. Does this advice extend to romantic partners?
No. Romantic parters are not members of your family of origin, so my advice changes dramatically depending on the circumstances.
If by romantic partner, you just mean a typical boyfriend/girlfriend type exclusive relationship (long or short-term), then my advice would be to immediately get the fuck out. Do not stay in a dysfunctional romantic relationship that is causing you serious emotional damage. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but in the end, getting out will always have been the smart move.
If by romantic partner, you mean a spouse, then my advice would be to probably still get the fuck out, but before you go through the stress and cost of getting a divorce, try at least a few months of couples counseling to see if there’s any hope that your partner is capable of change. A marriage is worth improving unless you know for sure it’s hopeless. Basically, go the extra mile with professional help to see if you can become functional before getting the fuck out. (This advice only applies to emotional damage. If you’re the victim of domestic violence, skip the couples counseling and immediately get the fuck out.)
If by romantic partner, you mean anyone — boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or one-night-stand — with whom you share any offspring, then the question suddenly shifts: What is in the best interests of your child? That’s all that matters. Yes, your mental and physical well-being are also important, but your child’s is more important. If your romantic relationship is causing you serious emotional damage, it’s also likely causing your child damage too, so it still may be wise to get the fuck out. Thing is, you will always be tied to your child’s other parent, so no matter what happens, things become much more complicated. There will be negotiations and arrangements, all of which should be centered around what’s best for your child.
When it comes to relationships that are causing you serious emotional damage, this advice also applies to friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. You can’t pick your family-of-origin, but you can pick your families-of-choice. You’re stuck with your parents, siblings, and children for life, but that’s it. Even if you ultimately decide to cut them off, they are still the only people for whom you have to accept limitations. Everyone else you can choose, so choose wisely, never give up your power to choose, and don’t stick around if you’ve made a bad choice.