He Abuses Her

Q: I had not had a serious relationship for about 5 years when I met a 45-year-old professional man. He said he was getting out of a 7-year relationship from "hell." Before that he was married for 11 years and now has a 20-year-old daughter. I have 2 young boys from my previous marriage. Well, he got my attention, he says "he fell in love with me" and "where have I been all his life," and that we have such great chemistry together. Yet in the first month he changed his mind every week and would leave me. By the second month he began talking down to me. "You have two boys from a previous relationship, you do not make more money than me, you're too fat," and so on. But then he'd come back a few days later and say he was sorry and didn't mean any of it. I finally gave up. My friends say that he is crazy, but I feel I am at fault somehow. I am no longer with him, but I'm still very confused. Is this a sign of a person that is bi-polar? -- Sally, 40

Dr. Susan: From what you've said, it's not possible to diagnose this fellow, but I can say that you've certainly done the right thing by shutting the door on him for good. I can tell you what he is: emotionally abusive. Guys like this put you down and then try to take back their hurtful words, then do it again, in a never-ending cycle. Sometimes their meanness escalates into physical abuse, too. What seems to have happened is that he found himself attracted to you very quickly, figured you were perfect (a common error of impulsive romantics, not only abusive ones), and then began noticing you had what he thought of as flaws. Rather than adjust his expectations and get real, he blamed you for being who you are. But that does NOT mean you're at fault. No one has the right to treat another human being with the contempt and disdain he lavished on you. You don't need the drama, you don't deserve the disrespect, and you don't have to settle for someone who intermittently tries to make you feel like dog doo-doo.

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