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You've Got Bail! My boyfriend, 26, and I live together. He makes me feel special, and I enjoy every moment with him. He does have some outstanding baggage, including a shoplifting misdemeanor he jumped bond on, which will take $2,500 in attorney fees to resolve. Although he has a finance degree, he can't get hired anywhere there's a background check. Today, he got fired from his waiter job, and I got frustrated. I'm in school full time, working part time. I'm happy to help pay the attorney (we've scraped together $600 so far), but this shouldn't become my responsibility. When I told him this, he researched suicide methods on the Internet, saying his death would be painful for me at first but best in the long run. Now, I'm afraid to ask anything of him. What if he's serious?

--Worried Sick

Imagine if everybody followed your boyfriend's lead. At the end of a meal, the waitress would ask, "Will that be cash, charge, or emotional blackmail?" Who's going to put needless wear and tear on their Visa when they can simply threaten to drown themselves in their cappuccino or slit their wrists with the butter knife?

A friend's ex-wife used to threaten suicide all the time: "I'm taking the pills, and I'll be dead before you get home!" My friend, noting the lady exhibited a remarkable will to live as long as she was getting her way, would reply, "Does that mean you don't want me to pick you up that huge Hershey bar? How about I just cram it between your big purple lips?"

Yes, sometimes, what seems to be a cry for help is really just a bluff to manipulate. Whatever this guy's doing, it appears to be working, since you're now "afraid to ask anything of him." Well, not ANYTHING. Just questions that might cause his allergy to personal responsibility to flare up. Exceptions include: "Would you like me to make you a big, juicy steak?" and "How about I work day and night to pay the attorney so you can lie on the couch and watch the fights on pay-per-view?"

Take no chances. While it might seem that a guy who's sincere about offing himself wouldn't be sending out notices -- "You're cordially invited to celebrate the end of Mr. and Mrs. Smith's son, Shecky..." -- research shows that most suicidal people do warn of their plans. So...is he or isn't he? Well, how would you know? You're merely an overworked student. This is a job for psychiatric professionals and the parents who raised him to be the man he isn't today. Inform his parents by confidential telephone call that they need to come pick up their kid before he hurts himself. Don't take no for an answer, and don't leave his side until they do. After all, it would be terrible to make a mistake; for example, failing to seize this golden opportunity to evict him from your life -- no matter how much you must "enjoy every moment" you're being held hostage by his threats to leave in an urn.

Use your time alone to reflect on why, given this guy's record -- the one accompanied by a mug shot -- you were at all surprised at how your relationship played out. (There's nothing to rev up a guy's existential angst like being told to get a job so his girlfriend doesn't have to cover his legal fees.) It isn't crass to want a partner who's going places -- and not just to county lockup if the cops get him on a traffic stop. Sure, perhaps expecting to find Prince Charming is unrealistic, but calling off the search to bond with a bail-jumping shoplifter might be a wee bit premature.

Posted by aalkon at October 18, 2005 1:10 PM


If he's threatening suicide, couldn't she also call her local mental health agency or police?

Posted by: deb at February 12, 2006 8:08 PM

She could call the police and/or mental health agency, but it won't do much. If HE called, well, that's another matter. He is being a manipulative jerk, and she should dump him and find someone whose life she doesn't have to fix. The guy jumped bail, for chrissakes. He isn't into facing reality. Once again, Amy gives AWESOME advice.

Posted by: Pooky at February 24, 2006 3:30 PM

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