Dear Dr. Irene,
Let me start by saying your web site has been a true God send for me. I
was looking for answers one day on the internet as to why my boyfriend (Tony)
always seemed so emotionally unbalanced, and your site just seemed to come
out of nowhere. It was exactly what I was looking for. I knew how he
was treating me, but didn't know the correct words to use for it.
Tony and I met ONLINE about 4 years ago while we were both in rocky
marriages. We talked, had a lot in common and I really enjoyed him because
he seemed to be just an average man with an average life and loved his
kids. We lost touch for several months. My marriage finally broke up
and when I ran into Troy online again one day, he told me his wife threw
him out. I guess I should have seen the red flags then, but I
didn't. He blamed her for everything, cheating, partying and staying
out all night, etc. He was the devoted dad staying home while she
was out, never cheated on her (made passes at people and set up dates to
meet women, but he thinks that's okay because nothing ever followed through.)
I'm getting off track, but I felt
bad for him: such a great man losing his house, possessions and kids all
because of a psycho lady who wanted several different men and to party all
the time. Boy, was I told some whopper stories by him and bought
them all! He and I started dating long distance.
I moved as close as I could to him
without leaving the state (custody issue) and he moved in with me.
It was about an hour away from his job and kids, but he made the drive
daily for about a year. We have been together for 3 years. I
have lived in the town he grew up in for about a year so he can be close
to work and family.
We had broken up because of his
lack of desire to have a committed relationship & his inability to
love me like I wanted and deserved, but he said he could be a better
person with me if I moved here and he didn't have the burden of driving so
much. We'll, I'm here and it's just as terrible here if not worse.
His entire family is here. He doesn't need to discuss his wrong
doings with me, he just runs to his mother or sisters.
He won't go to his father as
quickly because his dad likes me and sees what Tony is destroying with me.
Dad tries to set him straight and he doesn't like that. So he gets mad at
me because dad yelled at him instead of telling him he's a good boy and no
woman is ever going to be good enough like his mother tells him. His
mother is a whole issue in itself that I don't have the time to get into
here. Anyway, whenever I do or say something as innocent as it
may be, he always seems to "take it" differently from what I
meant. He said I say it with an attitude which I don't think I do.
If I don't say or do everything to the standards in his head, he distances
himself from me and starts doing things he knows I can't stand - he's even
attempted to meet women on the internet for "long term
I'm a single mom of 3 great
daughters. I pay all my own bills, I work 2 jobs and am so tired of
making all the sacrifices in this relationship. I've talked with a
counselor about this. She confirmed my suspicions of "verbal
abuse" and told me he will never change - so stop trying to help him
change by giving him everything and loving him into changing. His ex
wife and I are now friends and we talk about the abuse. She didn't know it
had a name, but said they broke up several times in 12 years. He always
came back apologizing. She and I have/had the same issues with him.
We told him to stop saying "I LOVE YOU" and "I'M
SORRY" because he doesn't know what either of them truly mean.
Now, my questions to you: I
have once again stopped seeing him and I'd love to think it's for good
this time. Can he truly love me or anyone and just not know how to
treat them right? Why are you asking this question?
Is it OK to mistreat people if you love them? And will my
daughters grow up and be "victims" from watching me in this
relationship for 3 years? I try to do the best I can for them to
raise them right and give them a normal life, but I think this
relationship could have lasting effects on them as well. They care
about Tony, but for 3 years, he wouldn't bother to get close to them
because he has 2 daughters of his own and doesn't need 3 more. (And
yes, as piggish as that sounds, those are his words.) His daughters
have a lot of problems, thumb sucking at 12, bedwetting at 9, attitudes
all the time. They talk back, disobey him and just have no respect for him
- and that's okay with him. He loves them, they love him and that's all
that matters to him. I'm sorry to be so lengthy with this, I'm sure you
know I could go on all day. I'm just concerned about my daughters
with all of this. Thanks for your site Dr. Irene, it's been a great
help to me and a big step in getting me started with a normal life again.
There are no
formulas, no guarantees Kay. Raise two different kids in the same exact
house, and they often grow up with two entirely different views of the
same life. Don't waste your time worrying about things you cannot change.
You did the best you could at the time you did it. Learn from your past
and spend your energy becoming the best person you can be now - be
the best role model you are capable of being for your kids. Its OK for
them to know you are OK dealing with life and the difficult choices life
You did yourself a
favor by consulting with a therapist. Ask this person about helping the
kids make sense of their experience of Tony. Perhaps a series of family
discussions or family sessions would help (e.g., why we moved, why Tony no
longer lives with us, how each child feels about the past few years,
etc.). Better they talk about their feelings than pretend they don't have
In any case,
you are on the right track. Good luck to you and my very best
wishes, Dr. Irene