He Won’t Leave

Morning friend,

Sometimes when we’re stuck in a repetitive pattern of unhealthiness or sin we’re tempted to berate ourselves over and over again. We don’t even see the tiny steps forward we may have gained, all we see is the big mistakes we’re still making. 

In today’s question, our guest is mad at herself and sad for falling into the same stupid patterns in relationships. But I see two areas of growth. First, instead of asking me “what’s wrong with him?” she’s seeing that at the core, the problem is her. “What’s wrong with me?” Second, she did successfully keep one boundary. She didn’t give him a key to her apartment. I would bet that with previous toxic boyfriends she did give a key, and lesson learned, never give up your key.

Today’s Question: I have a history of choosing bad relationships. You really don't know a person for the first 6 months, they are on their best behavior. Haha – I don't know what happened that I was in the Core program that I didn't do or finish. Because I have learned nothing. I've applied no knowledge to my life! So sad.

I'm in a relationship now with a non-believer, who does drugs, sells drugs, he lies, about his laundry for example. I don't know what to do. He's staying with me, sleeping on my couch for free, for the past 7 months. He won't leave! Someone on the CONQUER group said that drug addicts are sneaky. I feel like I need to have the police come so he will leave. He doesn't have a key.

Answer: You don’t really ask me a question but it sounds like you do need some help. One thing I noticed is he doesn’t have a key. He’s lived there for 7 months with no key. Why not? Because you know you don’t trust him. That’s your one and only boundary. You won’t give him a key to your apartment. But that’s a start. But then again, you let him stay there for free. You tolerate him lying to you, taking and selling drugs while living in your apartment. What’s that about? 

You say you have a history of repeating bad relationships. You also said you haven’t learned from past mistakes nor have you applied new learning to help you make different choices. That’s great self-awareness and humility in admitting where you are at right now. But you say you’re sad you haven’t done the work to do it differently. If that’s true, what are you willing to do to change directions? 

I don’t ask you this to shame you, but to help you figure out your next right step. You didn’t give him a key. That’s a start. 

You said maybe your next right step is calling the police to get him out. Have you ever asked him to leave? Have you told him that you no longer want to be his girlfriend (or mom or maid)? Have you tried locking him out of your apartment when he leaves, putting his “stuff” in storage or in the hall outside your door with a note? 

It’s your apartment. If his name is not on the lease or on the check paying the rent I believe you have every legal right to kick him out. But that’s not the problem or you would have done that already. What is your biggest hesitation? Your fear? Is it internal or external? Or both?

For example, your external fear might be, “I’m afraid he’ll come after me if I kick him out.” Or your internal fear is, “I hate to be alone. Somebody is better than nobody.” Write down all your fears. Now, as an adult woman, how can you face your fears instead of running away from them? 

You said that you’re sad that you have not applied healthy relationship skills in your life and you keep repeating bad relationships. These repeat toxic relationships are there for a reason. They are there to help you learn what you need to learn to get healthy and strong. Once you learn that, they won’t keep repeating. 

This is your opportunity to learn to speak up for yourself. To stand up for yourself and implement tougher boundaries and consequences if he refuses to respect your boundaries. For example, you might say, “I don’t want to continue this arrangement and I’d like you to find a new place to live.” (That’s level 1). 

If he refuses to listen and leave, then you may have to stand up and say, “If you won’t leave I will call the police to escort you out of here. I doubt you want them here so please pack your things and leave.” If you aren’t comfortable with this step and he continues to linger, pack his things, put them in a box in the hallway, and double lock your door when he leaves to do his drugs or hang out with his friends. 

If you fear for your safety, definitely consult with your local police department for a plan to secure his exit and your safety. 

[Tweet “For you to actually do these things successfully, you will need to face your internal challenges and fears.”] Fears about being alone. Fears about making him upset or hurting his feelings. Fears about your own worthiness to be with someone who is mature and healthy. Fears about taking responsibility for your own life, well-being, and future. 

Therefore, step 1 is to ask yourself what do you think keeps you most stuck in these repetitive patterns of yours? Step 2, what action step are you willing to do differently starting now?

Friend, when you’ve been stuck in a repetitive unhealthy pattern with internal fears or external fears, what most helped you get moving forward?


  1. Caroline Abbott on March 17, 2022 at 10:11 am

    I love the question, what are you willing to do differently now? I counsel many who are or were in abusive relationships. When I was in the same, (married 20 years to an abuser), it took me so long to get the courage to get a restraining order and make him leave. One of the best things I ever did. It started my road to freedom. Since then, I became an author, DV advocate, and counselor. I also married the love of my life, a healthy wonderful man who treats me so well. I could never have imagined living such a fulfilling happy life.
    Getting counseling with someone who understood abuse was a huge part of my healing. I recommend it.

  2. Jeanne on March 17, 2022 at 2:07 pm


  3. Pam on March 17, 2022 at 4:08 pm

    I started attending codependency groups, which then took me to Alanon recovery. I have been in these groups over 25 years. I FOUND my voice, learned to create boundaries, & took action. I could not have made progress if I had not gone to the recovery groups every week. It takes so much energy to push past the internal fears. There IS a way out, but it requires incredible determination to break out of the cycle of “self abuse” from negative patterns. I believe you can do it!

  4. Bii on March 19, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    This is heartbreaking! I’ve been in a situation where I’ve asked myself “Why do you allow this?” The internal fear is real. There is no logic to it. It can become so consuming! Praying you learn how much you are worth. Know you can manage the fear. The safety is in you and connected to God. You can do this!

  5. Connie on March 21, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    I couldn’t do anything until I realized in my gut and heart how valuable I am to God. How He feels about me and about Him and about abuse, and that He wants me to give Him the right to be my protector and lover. And my strength and courage. That I can share anything with Him and as His sheep, I will hear His voice. That I can enter His rest and be free. Also, learning the true interpretations of scripture really helps, as in the equality of men and women. tru316.com is so good.

    There are so many of these blogs now, partly because we need them, but also partly because we are tempted to follow yet another set of rules, leaning on our own understanding, having a form of godliness and denying its power. ‘Do this, do that’. I don’t think the blogs intend to do that, but we easily fall into the trap of it.

  6. Martens on March 21, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    I have forgot my password. I know it’s Conquer what else I can’t remember.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 21, 2022 at 11:13 pm

      Martens, if you are in CONQUER contact customer support at assistant@leslievernick.com and they will help you.

  7. Autumn on March 22, 2022 at 5:38 am

    Tell a friend and let them take action for you. Most anyone who knows your situation would say to call the police. Most states provide restraining orders against love ins that won’t leave. Does he ever leave the house? When he does, plan a vacation and when he comes knocking, you won’t be there. No confrontation on your part. Then block his phone number.

    I’m the end your thinking needs to grow so you realize that his problems are his problems, not yours. Finally, don’t sleep with him. Sleeping with him causes false bonding. Abstain, refrain and move on.

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