10/24/99 Advice Column
I think his excessive critisism is a method of controlling me, it wears on my self-confidence and makes me more submissive. I have started to stand up for myself more but I don't want to be bitching all the time. Do you have ay ideas on how I can end his mean, verbal abuse? He is not abusive in any other way and is a very loving man.
Thanks Alot! Fed-Up
I'd suggest you call his ex, ask her out to lunch, and get the real story on how he can behave when angered. In the meantime, stop ignoring his abusive behavior. Verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, sometimes even worse. Putting up with that and constant criticism is destructive to your self-esteem and to your relationship as well.
And simply calling him on it and telling him to stop isn't enough either. Obviously, it's not working or you wouldn't be writing me.
Bad behavior has to have repercussions. In other words, there has to be a punishment for a boyfriend who is verbally abusive. The next time he becomes verbally abusive, leave the house immediately. Then don't come back for several hours. If he continues the abuse or does it again, stay away overnight. Let him know that you won't stay there if he's abusive.
If he can't control his anger, get him into an anger management workshop or to see a counselor. Even if he agrees to go, you're taking a chance with this man. As a verbal abuser, he's one small step from physical abuse and it's an easy line to cross. A well-balanced man who really loves you is not mean, critical, and verbally abusive.
I have seen him approach me a stop just short of giving me a physical sign of his caring. I know I have seen a desire to touch me lovingly but then fear. He will out of the blue give me a passionate touch and quickly move away. I feel that at times he has done or said things in hope I will leave the relationship. He has repeatedly stated he has never been able to retain a close relationship once sex becomes a factor and that he values our closeness to much to lose it because we have sex. Is there anything I can do to help him see that physical intimacy is not a killer of relationships? Or am I being a fool that has fallen in love with someone who can never love me or anyone?
If not, then you are indeed wasting your time if you think there is something you can do to make this person's past traumas go away. He needs therapy, big time, perhaps years and years of therapy. And there's no guarantee that after those years of therapy he'll be able to love you or anyone else. Please read "The Broken Popcorn Machine" in my Library. It won't solve the problem, but it will make you understand it better.
His whole story about only being able to have non-intimate, meaningless, unloving sex is so sad. But he is also able to tease you just enough with occasional glimpses of tender loving possibilities to keep you hoping. How clever he is in spite of his inability to love!
I don't know that he'll never be able to love you or anyone else -- that's a harsh prognosis -- but I can tell he's deeply troubled and that love with him will be a heartache.
He deosn't have a good track record in relationships. If you really want to love and be loved, find someone with a relatively healthy attitude toward love and relationships. Look for past healthy relationships as a predictor of the future.
This fantasy is not necessarily about a way to make love to another man or woman with the permission of the mate, even though that is some part of the excitement. It is simply a fantasy that's as old as ancient Rome. It's sort of an "If one is good, two must be even better," kind of thing.
Love makes all things possible, including a menage a trois, if it's done in the right spirit and with the right understandings ahead of time, and if everyone involved is comfortable with those understandings. Before entering into such an arrangement, everyone should be clear about what they expect and what they absolutely don't want to happen.
I know of many couples who've experimented with sex with another woman or another man and some who've even made it a regular part of their lives. Most though, do it once or twice for the thrill, and then they move on, with a shared erotic memory to grin over in their old age.
Don't agree to do anything you don't feel comfortable doing.
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