Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years.
He has a beautiful daughter whom I have a great relationship with.
He and I are 12 years apart, and at times I second guess his maturity.
He moved in with me about eight months ago.
I know he loves me and I love him dearly, however, his temper can really make me second guess everything too easily.
He likes to go out with friends about three times a week. When he comes home, I tend to get very nervous and begin questioning what I might have done wrong to get him upset.
It can be anything from not blow-drying my hair, to leaving a piece of his mail on his side of the bed.
I understand some men like their women to do things for them and I want to do things for him. But that piece of mail turns into a pile of garbage in his eyes, because it starts an argument of why am I so lazy. He claims I don’t do anything for him or think of anyone but myself. Then he begins to express that’s why I’m so overweight and he body shames me in every way a man can.
I will take the bait occasionally and speak up for myself, but his anger takes over and he’s never wrong. Other times I simply stay quiet and he goes on and on.
I love this man and I try so hard to sleep these things off. But I find myself becoming an angry person being around him while he’s upset.
I know I’m not naturally an angry person, so there has to be something we can do to keep this from happening all the time.
Can you help me with this?
Dear Hurting: What you call possible immaturity, I call abusive. The behavior you report: Going out by himself several times a week, returning home and putting you down, boxing you in so that you are constantly worried about tiny “infractions” – these are all alarming actions of a relationship that is imbalanced and abusive.
There is nothing you can do to change this dynamic unless your partner commits to change, and the guy you describe in your question does not sound inclined to change. He holds the power, and he will not readily relinquish it.
The best path for you is the path that leads you out of this unhealthy relationship. It’s time to ask him to leave your home. If you need more encouragement, please seek out family and friends who can help you to look at this risky relationship in an objective way. Don’t let this person isolate you.
Dear Amy: “Wondering” posed a question about how to talk about her ex-husband to her young children. I agreed with your advice to be very careful.
I was divorced with two daughters. I had the ex-husband from hell. However, I had a rule. No one, absolutely no one – could say anything negative about him in my children’s presence, not my parents, not my family, not my friends.
When he tried to agitate me, I would smile and walk away. If I received a harassing phone call from him, I would listen, thank him for his opinion and politely hang up.
It was very difficult to do, but I would not allow myself to get drawn into a battle where only my children would suffer.
When my children got older and started asking questions about his behavior I would say: “It’s OK to love your dad. You don’t have to like what he does, or his values, or the things he stands for. But, it’s OK to love him.”
Dear Been There: Thank you for promoting this very compassionate and wise reaction to a very tough situation.
Dear Amy: I’m writing in response to a comment from a person who works in HR who said that HR’s role is to protect the company, not the employee.
I’ve been in HR for nearly 25 years. I realize that writer’s viewpoint is a common one, but HR folks who take their roles seriously and thoughtfully see it as a dual advocacy role.
Yes, part of our jobs is to keep the company out of court, but if you’re doing it right, with the right motivation, you are also advocate for doing right by the employees. In ethical companies, those are not mutually exclusive concepts.
HR from Both Sides
Dear Both Sides: Point taken. Thank you.