Q: I truly love my boyfriend and I know he loves me as well, but he goes through these periods where nothing that comes out of his mouth towards me is civil. When asked why, he pretends to be unaware of talking to me that way. I try even when I am mad to be respectful and civil. He, on the other hand, makes my mouth hit the floor at times. I do not deserve to be treated this way, that I am sure of. What I don't know is if he simply thinks so little of me and does not care how he makes me feel, or if he's really unaware of his behavior. I have tried to explain to him that I do not deserve to be called stupid, idiot or to be answered in a tone that reeks of loathing and disgust, or yelled at for no reason. What do you think the problem could be, and do you have any suggestions on how I can correct this? -- Mona, 41
Dr. Susan: That's emotional abuse, no doubt about it. You're a handy "thing" on which your boyfriend pours frustrations that have nothing to do with you. He's getting away with it, and will continue to do so. Serious emotional abusers don't usually mend their ways for very long, and in fact, the abuse often escalates, and may turn physical. The real question is why do you put up with this abuse? You know you don't "deserve" it (as if any woman does). I don't think any further "explaining" is required on your part. He knows what he's doing by now. So the next step is up to you. He calls you abominable names; you walk out of the room. Period. Do not get caught up in a back-and-forth discussion. And really, how long can you call this "love," when his voice reeks of loathing and disgust? That sort of thing ends up with you feeling like you have to walk on eggshells all the time. Very stressful.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.