Question from Marina
Weezy, I think I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship. Please help.
I’m dating this guy, and I think he emotionally abuses me. He makes fun of my nose, voice, etc., and when I get upset about it he says he’s kidding and that I need to take a joke.
He also won’t allow me to talk to his ex-girlfriend, and he gets angry extremely easily. He just snaps, and blames everything on me. He embarrasses me in front of his friends and I’m just getting sick of it.
The thing is that I love him so much. I can’t stand to let him go, because even though there are negative things about him, there’s so many great things. I just don’t know what to do …
First, we must accept that sometimes our emotions get it all wrong.
An abusive guy knows exactly how to work on all of your insecurities and perpetuate your false belief that you need him. So, take out a piece of paper and draw a line straight down the middle from top to bottom. On the left, make a list of what you like about this guy. On the right, make a list of what you do not appreciate about him.
In your post to me, you mentioned his bad qualities. When it came to good qualities, you said only that you love him and that there are many great things about him. OK, what are they?
I ask, knowing full well that even if you tell me that, every night, he bathes lepers in a bucket of his own tears, I will still say that no kindness erases cruelty. It just sits beside cruelty and becomes tainted by it. Sort of like if you hate olives and they put olives in your tuna salad. You can try to pick them out but there they are, soaking their olive juice all up in your tuna.
Each half of every loving couple deals with annoyances from his or her partner. For example: She leaves Kleenex everywhere. He flosses at the dinner table. She collects tiny spoons. What have you.
But in the good column, healthy-relationship people get to write: He supports me. He listens to me. He compliments me. He cares about my feelings. He roots for me.
You are describing a person who thinks it’s funny to hurt your feelings. A joke is only funny if both people are laughing. Your looks and your voice are not a joke to you. He is putting you down in an attempt to control you. There is no upside to him that is going to erase this cruelty.
You love the idea of him and of being in a relationship. As long as you are with the wrong man, you will not be able to notice the right man.
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Question from Yolanda
I recently started dating this older man, and this is the most mature and healthy relationship I’ve ever been in. He’s had a few long-term relationships so far and so have I, but never as serious as his.
He was engaged three, almost four years ago. Long story short, he ended their engagement because he knew that would be best for both of them/their families. I know he’s still very hurt by the situation, but he says he’s ready to move on and not be a martyr for her anymore.
He’s had relationships since but never any that were serious. He sleep-talks frequently and has said he loves me in his sleep, but when confronted, he basically admitted that he thought I was his ex-fiancée then apologized.
I told him it seems like he’s not ready to move on and that I’m not willing to be a pawn in this, to which he said he cares deeply about me and, though he cares about his ex, he knows that it’s over and he needs to move on. I’ve asked him before if he compares her and me, but he said no.
I’m worried because I care about him a lot and it seems like he is ready to move on, but he’s just still very hurt and I’m not sure where that leaves us. Yesterday he called me her name in his sleep and it just makes me feel like he wishes I were her.
Any time he is confronted about it, he assures me that he only wants me and apologizes, but I’m not sure if it’s me he’s trying to convince. I’m lost on what to do and I’ve tried so hard to give it time and be patient, but this is over a span of four months.
I think the situation does require time. However, you are telling me that his previous relationship ended four years ago so that’s a concern. When someone is mourning a lost love they are often missing what never was … what they were never quite able to manifest. This causes them to retrace steps and wonder if they could have or should have done something differently.
What he may be struggling with is his own sense of failure when actually it’s just that he and his ex were never going to be a good fit. It is taking him a good bit of time to get to a place where he forgives himself and/or, more important, he understands that as hard as he may have tried, that relationship was never going to work out.
You are the person who is present and trying to love him.
As for your concern that he is comparing the two of you, love is abundant. It is not finite. Your guy may always hold a soft spot in his heart for that woman, but he should soon be able to stop idealizing her so that he is better able to grasp and accept the flaws and dysfunction that infused his attempts to love and be loved by her.
You can continue to date him and love him during this period and show him who you are and how what you have is better. Or you can ask for a break.
The break would give each of you perspective. If what he has with you is mostly healthy and what he had with her was not, and … most important, if what he wants is a solid, supportive relationship, he will find himself drawn back to you.
I do agree that he needs more time to get over his ex. The question you must ask yourself is, “Do I want to be with him while he does that?”
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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a subsequent column.
— Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She also co-hosts the podcast Media Path with Fritz Coleman, and teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.