Q: I love my boyfriend, but I can’t help being mean to him. I treat him the way my mother treats me. I want to be nice…. ….please help!

A: You’ve said so much in this little note!

Here are some things to think about:

1) How does your boyfriend treat you?
I’ve met a lot of people who accuse themselves of being mean but don’t realize their partner is as bad or even worse! These people think they are supposed to “please” everyone and just “take” mistreatment.

2) How old are you?
Teenage relationships are known to be volatile. Both people feel pretty desperate, and it shows in their intensely good and intensely bad treatment of each other.

3) Do you know it’s normal to be like your mother?
We are all a lot like our parents until we learn how to be different. For many years you only had your parents to show you how to treat people. Eventually you learn which of their behaviors work and which don’t work. It’s great then that you are catching yourself being like your mother, and learning that it just doesn’t work. (You don’t mention your father. Did your mother also mistreat him? Did he “just take it.” Do you expect your boyfriend to be like him?)

4) Is there alcoholism or drug addiction in your family?
It’s a common situation that one parent is addicted and the other parent stays with them and verbally abuses them for their addiction. If your mother is addicted, her cruelty may be related to her own addiction. If your father was addicted, she may have used him as sort of a “target” for her anger.
What matters for You is that you need to know if alcohol or drugs change the way you treat your boyfriend… and if you may be taking your anger at your mother (or father) out on your boyfriend.

5) Have you talked to any therapists or counselors about this?
Your letter could indicate either big problems that will be hard to change or small problems that are typical in new relationships. It would be good to talk to a third party outside of your family to help you evaluate how serious these problems are and to help you make your changes.

You are wise to see that you play a part in your problems with your boyfriend.

I’m glad you wrote to me as an important first step in getting help. Thanks for writing!


Q: My husband left our marriage for another woman 2 years ago, however, lately he has been coming on to me hot and heavy. He is still with her so WHAT’S UP?

A: I sure don’t know what’s up with him, but I do wonder what’s up with you. What difference does it make to you that he’s coming on to you lately – especially since he evidently hasn’t told you why he’s doing it, what’s happening with the other woman, whether he regrets leaving you, etc.

He sure doesn’t sound like a good bet to me from this short sentence you sent me.

Maybe you need to look at your self-image, to see why someone who did this to you still interests you?

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