Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Can My Abusive Boyfriend Be ‘Fixed’?”

“Jason” and I have been together for about three years now. We actually dated for the first time in high school when we were both very young, but we broke up and dated other people until we reconnected in our mid-20s.Last year on New Years — about two years into our relationship — he got very drunk and got violent with me. I wasn’t seriously injured but there was property damage. I pressed charges and we broke up, and over the last year he has attended several anger management programs including group sessions. He also quit a stressful job, got on the Dean’s list in school, got his own place and secured a great job as a student accountant while he finishes his studies.

He has shown nothing but remorse for everything that happened, and acts committed to improving himself in order to make our relationship work. Over the last few years he has said I have always been the only woman for him and he would do anything to spend his life with me. I, however, don’t believe in soulmates – I am a bit cynical and have trouble saying he’s “the one.”

This seems like a pretty cut and dry MOA situation, but I have never felt this way about someone. We have the same interests, motivations and goals in life and have always been very attracted to each other. I have tried dating other people but my mind and my heart always goes back to him. Many
people have told me never to give him another chance after what he did that night, and that someone who loves me would never hurt me, but I don’t see it as simple as that. Other than his temper, he is very caring, goes out of his way constantly to help me, and we enjoy our time together–but he does have communication issues when it comes to making me feel appreciated.

I know there is no excuse for abuse, but he does have anger issues stemming from an abusive childhood, and, with his commitment to making positive changes, I decided to give him another chance. We have been back together for about four months after a long break, but he sometimes loses his temper a bit (though never gets violent).

How do you think I should move forward with this? He wants to move in together in October when my lease is up, and I think it’s a long enough time away that we can continue to improve our relationship and personal issues. Would couples’ counseling be worth it even though we aren’t married or living together yet? Can an abuser ever be “fixed”? Everyone I talk to about this is biased one way or the other, so a neutral opinion – even some tough words – would be greatly appreciated. — Seeking Tough Love

If someone has been abusive to you in the past, has trouble communicating with you, and has continued to lose his temper and exhibit signs of unresolved anger issues, he is NOT — I repeat, NOT — someone you should be involved with, let alone considering moving in with. Couples’ counseling might be a fine idea if you had years and years invested, were already married, and/or had kids together. But you’ve been back together with this guy for all of four months and still have enough doubts to write to an advice columnist for some unbiased guidance. Do yourself a favor and break things off before it gets messy. By my calculations you’re in your late 20s now. It’s that age where you still have plenty of time to meet someone to build a life and family with if that’s what you want, but you aren’t so young that you can afford to invest years in a relationship that doesn’t have a future. There are many signs here that your relationship is destined for heartache and worse. Save yourself the agony of repeated abuse and give yourself the gift of time — time to start over with someone who doesn’t bring the same kind of baggage into your relationship that your current boyfriend does.

This has nothing to do with love. Someone can love you and still have personal demons that keep him from loving you the way you need to be loved. In that sense, you are right that this is complicated. Love sometimes is. But this isn’t a novel or some romantic movie where you can help your boyfriend fight his demons and win the war against them forever so he’s able to give you the kind of relationship you want. It rarely works that way in real life. In real life, someone can love you and you can love him and that doesn’t mean you’re right for each other or that your bond erases the bad stuff between you enough for you to be happy together.

The truth is you may find you never can forget your boyfriend. You may end up comparing all future dates and boyfriends to him, and for a while it may seem that no one stacks up. That doesn’t mean he was who you’re meant to be with. It doesn’t even mean that in time you won’t move him to some place in the back of your mind and a corner of your heart reserved for memories and ghosts of your past that no longer affect your present life. For all you know, there may be great loves in your future, and you’ll thank yourself for the opportunity to find them. You’ll thank yourself for making room in your life and your heart and for clearing away that which ceased guiding you to all the fulfillment and happiness you deserved to have. You’ll never know the great love you could have if you keep holding on to a fantasy that will never be.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to ‘like’ me on Facebook.

103 comments… add one
  • avatar

    oldie May 7, 2012, 9:10 am

    From what I have seen, it is possible, but not that likely. What you are seeing now is the courting period, in which the abuser hooks his victim. They can be very nice at that point. Then, when you have the ‘capture’ event — moving in together, marriage, pregnancy– they frequently revert back to their controlling, abusive selves. His violence was when drunk, according to your letter. Your chances are far better if ne never drinks again. Does he drink now? Abusive drunks can stop abusing if they stop drinking.

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    • Budj

      Budj May 7, 2012, 9:14 am

      very excellent point, oldie. Alcohol can bring out the worst in some people….it isn’t always this thing that makes everyone more fun…

      LW, I would highly advise he abstain from drinking if you care to carry on in this relationship. I can think of a few men who were great guys until they had booze in them…and it was like they were a completely different person. Definitely cut alcohol out. If he can’t do that then the relationship isn’t that important to him.

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    • avatar

      Desiree May 7, 2012, 9:20 am

      Agree with this. A close family member of mine was the most profound case of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde when it came to alcohol consumption that I have ever observed. I’m not saying the LW should necessarily stay with this guy, but if she does, he absolutely must *not* drink.

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  • avatar

    Amanda May 7, 2012, 9:12 am

    “I, however, don’t believe in soulmates – I am a bit cynical and have trouble saying he’s “the one.”

    LW, this statement you made is absolutely true. There are potentially many people that we could choose as our mate, it’s just a matter of meeting one of them and choosing to commit to them. I urge you to take Wendy’s advice and break it off with this guy. Can you really live with the constant fear that he’ll lose his temper and become violent? What if you have children and he looses his temper with them? It’s too big of a risk. Please get out now.

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    • avatar

      bambam October 17, 2014, 6:24 am

      I have experienced myself with this kibd relationship. 1st time he slapped me i forgive him cus he promised me he wull never hurt me ever again. He swore to his moms life but he broke it. One night, he drank he wanted to touch me but i said no bcus he was smelly,sweating and im tired. I said no nicely,when i try to emphasise to him like by raised my voice slightly,he did respect me he kicked me,chpked ne n hit my head to the wall few times. I was injured and i cried for help. I screamed for help and he started biting my face.

      Please dont go back with abusive guy, my ex promised me too many times. He broke it too many times,he lied and cheated too. I really love him but i cant be with him.

      He said he will change just 1 last chance, i gave him one last chance for 3x but he never changed.

      Thats my story, thats my experience.

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  • avatar

    a_different_Wendy May 7, 2012, 9:31 am

    I think if he keeps up with anger management classes, maybe starts (or keeps?) seeing a therapist, and does not drink, you could make it work. But that’s a lot of ‘if’s. And once you’ve moved in with him it would be harder to leave if he stopped doing any of those things, so it might be better to give it more time than October to move in if you do stay with him.
    You didn’t mention anything about controlling behavior, just him losing his temper and getting violent once. I know Wendy says to MOA, but you might give it a chance if you feel like you’re really, really good together.

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  • avatar

    savannah May 7, 2012, 9:32 am

    As someone who gets the great pleasure of teaching medical students how to talk to and deal with intimate partner violence, we would actually not ever recommend couples counseling as a solution to any domestic violence situation-ever, no matter the circumstances, no matter how long the couple had been together, were married or had kids. Because of the power differential that is set up when one partner becomes violent to the other couples counseling can at best be a huge waste of time and at worst (and more often) only enrage the violent partner and give them more ammunition. In couples counseling each partner is told to try to see the situation from the other side- an exercise that would in this situation be totally inappropriate, give legitimacy to the violent partners behavior and explore the ‘reasons’ the violence was warranted.

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    • avatar

      anonymous May 7, 2012, 10:18 am

      This is an excellent point — thank you for chiming in here.

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    • avatar

      Nadine May 7, 2012, 10:24 am

      I always love your comments. They make me think much deeper.

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      • avatar

        Nadine May 7, 2012, 10:24 am

        Gah, much more deeply…. grammar fail.

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      • avatar

        savannah May 7, 2012, 10:30 am

        Thank you!

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 10:55 am

      I’ve also heard that anger management for the abuser is not appropriate. He really should be in some type of batterer intervention program.

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      • avatar

        savannah May 7, 2012, 11:06 am

        Yes, I’ve also heard that. The basic premise in general is that therapy while in the context of a abusive relationship is not going to ‘work’ and most types of therapy actually escalate the immediate danger of the abused. This is true for no matter which partner is in therapy and is especially true if they are participating in it together. Until the environment/power structure in which the violence has taken place is broken, ie the couple breaks up- neither partner can become emotionally or physically healthy.

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol May 7, 2012, 12:38 pm

        Yeah, couples counseling is not even a good idea for an abusive relationship. The abuser could lie to the therapist, the victim could say something that would potentially anger the abuser, etc etc. This is really great advice I wish more people would hear.

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      • avatar

        GTR May 7, 2012, 9:28 pm

        I’m curious – what advice would you ladies give to “Jason” if you were in a position to do so?

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      • avatar

        Suzanne May 7, 2012, 11:38 am

        So true. I have a friend that used to be a therapist for batterers. The therapy given is very different than what you expect from an individual therapist or a couples therapist. They are there to help modify behavior, not find compromise. My friend said he spent most of his time getting the batterers to take responsibility for their actions, and then helping them figure out how to react differently.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady May 7, 2012, 11:21 am

      Out of curiosity, what is recommended in that case? I mean, duh, DTMFA in like 99% of cases, but on the off-chance the relationship is salvageable (my dad, for example, pushed my mom once but had been dealing with anger issues for years…and finally did get them under control when she kicked him out and made him go to couples’ counseling), how do you handle that or, say, when the abused party won’t leave?

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      • avatar

        savannah May 7, 2012, 12:28 pm

        Because so few women (and men) actually report abuse and those cases that do get reported are often just after an intense incident there are no other protocols than to give support to and urge (in effective and caring ways) for the abused to leave the situation and go to a private or public safe house. Of course no one can force the abused to leave unless they want to, just like doctors won’t know someone is being verbally or emotionally abused unless the patient tells them.

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  • avatar

    bethany May 7, 2012, 9:35 am

    I love this line:
    “In real life, someone can love you and you can love him and that doesn’t mean you’re right for each other or that your bond erases the bad stuff between you enough for you to be happy together.”

    LW, Wendy is soooo right. I know you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it sounds like the chances of something else happening are far too great. You said yourself that you’re not sure he’s “The One”. I think it’s time you MOA.

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    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am May 7, 2012, 11:36 am

      Right. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and go on. As crappy as that sounds.

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom May 7, 2012, 9:47 am

    I would always be afraid that any time he got mad or we argued he would get violent with me. I couldn’t live like that. It may be that he only gets like that when he’s drunk and yes maybe if he never drank again it wouldn’t happen. However, can you really be sure if you end up marrying him that he’d never drink again? I’m usually pretty neutral and try and see both sides in most relationships but I couldn’t live in fear for myself and my children.

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    • avatar

      Suzanne May 7, 2012, 11:19 am

      I totally agree. Whether he actually gets violent again or not, the threat is there. She will always try to avoid confrontation, and will never be able to be a full partner in the relationship.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 11:27 am

        YES. She’ll always be walking on eggshells. It’s not fun. Not fun at all.

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 7, 2012, 11:37 am

        And now you see who ultimately has the power. Not a good scenario at all….

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol May 7, 2012, 12:40 pm

        Yes and the minute there is fear in a relationship like that, it turns dangerous. At least in my opinion and experience.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 9:50 am

    No. He cannot be “fixed”.

    I was in a 3 year relationship filled with abuse- physical, mental, emotional- and he is not better to this day. At the begining of our relationship he was incredibly sweet, attentive, etc etc. Then he would get drunk and suddlenly I was stupid, slutty, ugly etc etc. The name calling escalated into shoving and shaking and eventually worse. The next morning he would applogize, woo me into not running for the hills and be the amazing BF I thought he was…until he got drunk again. By the time we got to the end of our relationship I was so incredibly screwed up. I did manage to leave him, but I’ve made the mistake of twice interacting with him. Both times he tried to reel me in with his charm and wit. I also got some frantic calls from a GF of his asking about the abuse that happened in our relationship and confirming he had continued acting the same way. He’s been to councling, therapy, rehab, etc etc etc. Including in patient treatment and he hasn’t changed. Don’t move in with him, don’t date him. Thank your luck stars and move on.

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  • avatar

    milli May 7, 2012, 9:55 am

    I am horrified by the readers answers. I have lived with an abusive parent (not even physically, but only verbally abusive) all my life and have cried myself to sleep many many nights. My mother always believed he would change, but he never did. It happened about once every week or so, and as an adult I still have deep scars and secretly hate my parents for what they put me through and still cannot understand why my mother stayed. So LW, be my guest, destroy your life and wake up at 50 with a kid that is scared of how his/her father will act today, at which time you will be so sorry for your husband that you will not be able to leave him.

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    • avatar

      milli May 7, 2012, 9:57 am

      P.S: Sorry for my English, it’s not my native language 🙁

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    • avatar

      Tinywormhole May 7, 2012, 10:13 am

      Absolutely agree. I grew up in a similar situation, and am still deeply scarred as an adult. Living with someone who has a temper, and waking up each morning and going through the day tiptoeing around them so you won’t (hopefully) piss them off is a miserable way to live. Don’t put yourself through it, don’t put your future children through it.

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    • avatar

      Pinky May 7, 2012, 10:28 am

      I also grew up with an an abusive father. He was a nightmare. My mother doesn’t understand why I have serious issues with her. She refuses to recognize that she never protected me. She forced me to got to his house on the weekends while she knew that I was physically abused there because she was afraid he would cut off child support payments. She would get angry about my bruises, but she still made me go to his house. Even in death, she sold me out. My evil father died recently. My mother provided my contact information to the attorneys so that this monster could point out that I was written out of the will because I fought back. Because I walked away when I was 18, In my absence, I was the source of much of his wrath.

      As a result of growing up in a situation like this, my red-flag warning system was a bit off. I wound up in a couple of relationships with emotionally-abusive, passive-aggressive men. I thought, as long as I wasn’t getting hit, it must be okay, right? WRONG. The first Mr. Pinky is still trying to contact me. I moved out in 1997 and cut off all contact with him in 1999.

      If we could label people like they do in social media, a lot of this pain could be avoided. Abusers are often charming and might have many positive qualities. They only lash out once in a while. If it were constant, they would be social pariah. It isn’t. They have jobs, friends and family members who might think the world of them. They rope people back into relationships with them after abuse because they are often contrite. My father was wealthy and bought fantastic gifts. The ex Mr. Pinky looked like Ryan Gosling and came across as the sweetest guy ever…until you got to know him.

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol May 7, 2012, 12:43 pm

        ” I thought, as long as I wasn’t getting hit, it must be okay, right? WRONG.”
        If I had a dime for every time I said that in my last emotionally abusive relationship, I would be a rich lady. Such a terrible way to see a relationship huh?

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B May 7, 2012, 10:12 am

    I tend to think abusers cannot be fixed. It would require a huge commitment to extensive therapy, major lifestyle changes (i.e., giving up drinking) and and a strong desire to overcome his own abusive past, which is likely where he learned to express himself this way. Even with all these things, the odds are against him. I would leave now. DO NOT move in with him. Find some other man who will treat you properly.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest May 7, 2012, 10:13 am

    Just to add somethimg different because I’m sure everyone else will cover the rest-
    You list all these feats he’s accomplished since that night almost as a ‘see how much better he is now’ yet none of those things say ‘see how much better he is TO ME now’. Just because his life is going on track with work and school really means nothing. Sounds like he’s at the age where these things happen in the normal course anyway.

    You say yourself you don’t think he’s the One. Then close it out by saying in the mere four months you are back together he’s exhibited a bad temper. I think you’re right, seems clear cut MOA.

    I actually feel like you’re trying to convince yourself of him being great for you but writing this to have us tell you good reasons to MOA.

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    • avatar

      Tinywormhole May 7, 2012, 10:17 am

      Right, I think if her gut feeling was not to MOA we wouldn’t be reading this letter.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson May 7, 2012, 2:44 pm

        I’m not trying to pick on you but your comment reminded me of something. “If the LW wrote in about it it must mean she secretly wants to MOA”. I just have to say that I wish we wouldn’t always assume that.

        I have a lot of doubts as a person. I just do. I’m married and I still occasionally am like WTF am I doing? Are we good for each other? Am I happy? Will this last forever? I don’t think it’s a bad thing – it’s just the way I am. I’ve actually begun to reconcile it in my head and I actually think it’s a good thing. My own peace and happiness is really important to me and I make it a priority. I understand I am in charge of my own happiness, but to say other people don’t affect our happiness is absurd. So I am always evaluating how I feel in certain situations – and I would not be happy if I wrote in and it was held against me.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 2:57 pm

        I’m the same way. I always ask for input. Talking it out helps. I also like to hear other people’s perspectives and points of view; getting advice from others makes you see things you might otherwise overlook.

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      • avatar

        Tinywormhole May 7, 2012, 4:51 pm

        I see your points, but there’s a difference between reflecting on your choices, getting input from others, etc. versus ignoring a gut feeling that is there for a reason. I think knowing where you draw the line is difficult for most people, and hopefully everyones responses will help the LW see the situation from a more objective point of view. My gut feeling is that she should listen to hers, and I don’t equate pointing it out to holding it against her. Quite the opposite, I assure you.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson May 7, 2012, 6:23 pm

        Yeah but saying that she really internally wants to break up with him because she’s asking for our advice is annoying to me. She’s asking because she wants other opinions. End of discussion. If that was true I’ve already wanted to break up with my husband like 4 times since we’ve been married. Advice sites wouldn’t exist if everytime someone wrote in we just tell them that because they wrote in they already know they should break up with their SO.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 7, 2012, 6:40 pm

        I agree. Sadly, I actually think that most everyone writing in here secretly wants us to say to them: “Omigod! This man LOVES you! You would be a fool to throw it all away…” It just seems lately that letter after letter here appears to be just begging for permission to stay in very bad — often even abusive — relationships.

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    • avatar

      anonymous May 7, 2012, 10:22 am

      This is a great point. Basically, she’s saying that since he’s not under external stress, he’s behaving well. But what’s going to happen once he’s under stress again? Because, believe me, you will have periods when the stress will mount up again.

      Maybe he can get his act together for someone else — but it’s not going to happen for you for the same reason a commenter does NOT advise counseling for abusive couples — the dynamic has been forever changed, and you on some level fear him and are worried he will hurt you. This means that you will forever be the suppliant. Not a good foundation for a healthy relationship.

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  • Amybelle

    Amybelle May 7, 2012, 10:15 am

    You know how people hear about an abusive relationship and say “why didn’t she leave the first time it happened?” Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. Your letter gives a lot of typical excuses why you are still with this man. (he was drinking, grew up in an abusive home, is a wonderful guy except for those anger issues, he’s going to change yadda yadda) If you want to find out why you won’t leave the second time, or the third time and beyond, then stay in this relationship.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest May 7, 2012, 10:17 am

    If you are unsure of your relationship so much so that you write in here, probably the last thing you should be doing is moving in together in a few short months. That goes for anyone not just you.

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  • avatar

    Flake May 7, 2012, 10:20 am

    I don’t know if he can be ”fixed”… I only know that I could not live the rest of my life wondering if he is or not… I would not be able to leave the kids alone with him. I would not be able keep wondering if the next glass of wine will send him over the edge. So I would move on.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant May 7, 2012, 11:53 am

      I agree. I’m always an optimist, and truly believe that people can change, can overcome their demons and become better people.

      But I’m not about to volunteer myself as a guinea pig to test whether I’m right or not.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle May 7, 2012, 10:25 am

    LW, the reasons you listed are NOT enough to attempt to “make it work” with an abusive man. Just because he’s taken steps to improve his life (possibly ONLY to make himself look good to you) doesn’t mean he’s “fixed.” Shared interests and attraction can be found anywhere, and when you find these things with someone else, you’ll eventually be able to forget this guy & realize what a bad match he was for you. Please allow yourself to do that, instead of investing more time into this guy.

    He may be committed NOW to improving himself and working on things for the relationship, but that’s because he still feels unstable– your relationship with him just got back on its feet, it’s new again, and not secure. Once he becomes comfortable again (and once YOU get settled in, as well), his temper flares will most likely get more extreme and occur more frequently. The communication skills he worked on improving in the past few months will vanish as he remembers that witholding affection is a good way to hurt you. Don’t fall back into a pattern with this man just because he’s putting himself in your path.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar May 7, 2012, 10:26 am

    Maybe he can be fixed – I would like to think that someone can master destructive behaviour and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from ever happening again if they dedicate themselves to change. But he can’t do that in time for a life with you. He has already been violent with you and you can’t unring that bell. As much as it is part of your history with him – it is part of his history with you. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. It just means that acting in your best interest means you cannot act in his. Getting back with an ex is always a risk – but you shouldn’t be risking your well being to do so…and that is exactly what you would be risking, LW. You can forgive him his behaviour if you want to, you can wish him all the happiness in life and success in his anger management but you really can’t put yourself, and any future children you may have, knowingly in danger’s way. I’m so sorry for you but you really do have to lead with your head and not your heart on this one.

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    • avatar

      SweetPeaG May 7, 2012, 11:01 am

      “He has already been violent with you and you can’t unring that bell. As much as it is part of your history with him – it is part of his history with you.”

      You said what I couldn’t find the right words for! While I hate to think that people can’t be redeemed in their lives and learn to become decent people, it is way too late to change how he treated this one woman. Maybe if he does a lot of work, he can be a good man to another woman, but it shouldn’t be this one.

      I was recently asked by an old coworker/friend why I left my ex. I told him straight out all the terrible ways that my ex treated me. He never hit me, but was very emotionally/verbally abusive, lying, cheating, etc. When I found out he was inquiring about this because of a friend of was thinking of dating my ex, I felt a little bad for giving my low opinion. Really, I shouldn’t have. But if my ex got the help he claimed he had since us breaking up (therapy), a small part of me wanted to believe he could have healthy relationships in his future. As much as he made my life hell, I hate to think of him as being a sad and lonely old man some day.

      LW, you can hope that this guy makes changes for himself and his future relationships. But, I really think he can’t undo what he did to you. And you need to move on for yourself. You can love him, but you shouldn’t be with him.

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  • theattack

    theattack May 7, 2012, 10:30 am

    I work with survivors of domestic violence, and I’m a little hesitant to be commenting about it. You did not give us very much information. Did he hit you once? Multiple times? Regularly in the past? If I’m reading you correctly, your actual question is: Can I trust that this is a one-time thing, or is he going to be a regular abuser? I think it’s possible for someone to do something ONCE (especially when drinking) that they did not intend, and would not do again. However, abuse is a cycle. If you don’t know much about the cycle, please google it and read as much as you can.

    You might be wondering if he’s someone who just did it once, but because of the way this cycle happens, it’s hard for you to know. By nature, after abusers are violent, they become remorseful and calm and loving, but it’s all part of a process before they start abusing you again. You won’t be able to rest easy thinking it was a one time thing until years and years and years of non-violence. Relationships are built on trust. He obviously breached yours in the biggest way possible, and knowing that you can’t fully trust him for years, do you think you’ll be able to have a healthy relationship with him for now? Probably not. And a relationship without trust should not be going anywhere. The time you spend not trusting him can’t count towards your time as a happy couple, so if you stay with him, you have several years of a “relationship” before you can even start getting serious. Is it worth it to put in that much time and effort with someone who you can’t even trust right now?

    But if you do leave, you can find somebody else who you are crazy about, who won’t ever hit you, and who you won’t have to write into an advice column about.

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    • theattack

      theattack May 7, 2012, 10:34 am

      And no matter what, do NOT move in with him anytime soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can i add more exclamation marks? Do NOT do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      No one should move in with someone who they don’t feel 100% safe with. Your home is your safe space. Do not give up your safe space under any circumstances whatsoever.

      Also, find a domestic violence support group for yourself. If you can get into a good one, they are so helpful. Individual counseling would be helpful for you too, but I would recommend a support group for you. Hearing other women’s stories will help you with your own, and you shouldn’t feel judged or alone at all.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 10:50 am

      I agree with this so much. Abuse IS a cycle, and sometimes the calm period can last a REALLY long time. And often, everything will be fine and dandy until you “up” the level of commitment – by doing something like, for instance, MOVING IN together.

      My ex was abusive. He was the perfect gentleman until we moved in together. Then he started showing *signs* of being abusive – like his “temper” would get out of control, especially when he was drinking. He would punch holes in the walls and doors and scream and yell and cry, and sometimes destroy things of mine, but I put up with it because he never hurt ME. I thought he just needed to work on his anger.

      One night in the course of him throwing one of his drunk tantrums that involved destroying “stuff”, he decided to break the headboard of my bed – while I was in it. So basically he smashed a piece of furtniture over my face, leaving me with a bloody gash and two black eyes. The next day he threw a cup at me and hit me in the face. Of course, he wasn’t trying to hit me with it, he was just throwing it in my general direction.

      These things were “accidents.” He wasn’t trying to hurt ME, I just got in the way of his path of destruction, he said. And I was stupid enough to believe him when he told me that shit. I thought that ME getting hurt was a one-time thing. And I believed he could and would change.

      The thing is, he DID change for a while. But then he started showing me those *signs* again, and he became really possessive, and I realized I would always be scared of him and I could never trust him. I regret to say that it took me WAY too long to kick his ass to the curb, but god it’s the best thing I ever did. He never did hurt ME again – but that’s because I didn’t give him the chance.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 10:55 am

        Well, OK so I guess I did give him the chance to hurt me again because I didn’t leave immediately, but you get the point.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 10:58 am

        “He never did hurt ME again – but that’s because I didn’t give him the chance.”

        LOVE.

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      • avatar

        jubietta May 7, 2012, 11:24 am

        CatsMeow, you Rock!

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 11:43 am

        🙂

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 7, 2012, 12:04 pm

        All this abuse is scary. I’ve been in both situations before, emotionally and physically. I believe it’s more of a sign of two people just aren’t meant to be together. Now, if the abuser was easily annoyed and popped off at everyone, that would be a problem. If two people are fighting enough to where anything is getting broken, you two aren’t meant to be together. There’s only a matter of time before it happens again. You both push each other’s buttons at the most inopportune times.

        I do have a question. What’s everyone’s definition of abuse? To me, it’s a heated argument that gets way out of control to where someone is physically harmed, a hole is placed in a wall, or a piece of property is broken.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 12:09 pm

        In my case I was consistently told I was worthless, ugly, slutty, stupid, no one else would ever put up with or want me, and the like for 3 years. With the exception of when he was appologizing…then I was beautiful and meant the world to him. Usually all of this was screamed through beer guzzling and chain smoking cigs.

        Physically speaking I was shoved, shaken, kicked, cornered, had my arms/hands/rib caged squeezed so tightly they bruised. Picked up and drop or flung into chairs/desks/walls was a pretty common one for him. He also liked to punch walls, throw things, corner me and hit the walls way to close to my body.

        Yeah. Fun times.

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 7, 2012, 12:19 pm

        GatorGirl. That’s abuse in my book for sure. I was just wondering if you accidently hit someone, kind of hard, out of frustration. Saw a girlfriend do that exact thing to her boyfriend. She apologized and the guy wasn’t upset about it for long. I think he was more embarrased that she did it in front of company.

        This abuse thread has me thinking, because what exactly constitutes abuse, emotionally or physically? Technically, everyone has had some form of abuse, since a heated argument can constitute emotional abuse. Or is emotional abuse more of putting the person down and telling them they are worthless? Maybe it’s a case by case basis?

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      • theattack

        theattack May 7, 2012, 2:16 pm

        Will.i.am, I think it’s generally dangerous to try to define abuse, because it can look so different. I separate individual accounts of being awful to each other from the cycle of abuse. I wouldn’t say that everyone has experienced abuse, because to me an abusive relationship is one in which there’s any of the following: controlling behavior, manipulation, threats, coercion, fear, physical violence, emotional cruelty (but this would be more of a pattern than a single instance because all of us say things we shouldn’t sometimes), etc.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 12:26 pm

        UGHHH that sounds so much like my ex. It makes me sick to my stomach that I put up with it for so long…. but I was isolated, manipulated, and made to feel worthless and “crazy”. Those are the things that made it possible to happen, and that’s part of the cycle and the pattern that not everyone understands.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 1:10 pm

        You’re right about the isolated and manipulated and “you’re crazy” statements. He litterally destroyed every friendship I had held at that time.

        He’s also the nutter that stole my cat. (Which I did get back and jsut celebrated his 5th birthday Wednesday!)

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 1:37 pm

        Yeah, he hurt my cat once. 🙁 He also “accidentally” killed his pet rat in a fit of rage. I’m like, OK clearly you cannot control yourself. How could someone like him EVER be trusted around children?

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      • rainbow

        rainbow May 7, 2012, 2:59 pm

        A guy I was with used to stay inside holding my kitty and a knife to her eye while I went to the door to convince the police we were just into BDSM (too many bruises to tell them nothing was happening). He said he’d pop her eyes out if I didn’t get rid of them quickly.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 4:36 pm

        Oh god that’s awful!

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol May 7, 2012, 4:11 pm

        Omg. Whenever my ex would say “you’re the crazy one, you make me act crazy” blah blah blah, it made me feel even *crazier*. I believed him! Good lord i am so thankful to be out of that mess.

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 7, 2012, 12:14 pm

        Correction, I don’t condone abuse in any way. I don’t want anyone to think that it’s ok in any fashion.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 12:23 pm

        Um, no. It’s not about pushing each other’s buttons. It’s about the abuser having a warped view of power structures in relationships and using violence or threats of violence to control his partner. It’s a manipulative cycle, it’s a pattern. And it’s not about 2 people not being right for each other; abusers abuse. I found out after we broke up that my ex had done the same shit to his last girlfriend, only worse.

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 7, 2012, 12:39 pm

        I don’t know, because I’ve never experienced repeated abuse or been in the situation since I was 7-10 years old. I watched my Mom get abused often enough, but I also saw that they were two people that were incompatible. My Mom would get upset and very vocal, which was what would set him off to be abusive. From my experience abuse is very bad, but I also saw it through clear eyes, that two people weren’t meant to be together. My Mom has never been abused since then, but she is still very vocal, and she tends to be the only audience listening when she gets upset. Much like talking down to you, because her emotions are on end. Once again not condoning abuse, but I’m trying to harbor where it can actually come from. Could it be that all people are abusive to an extent, but they are never surrounded by people that cause them to act out, or are all people innocent, and they surround themselves by people that make them abusive?

        I’m thinking wwwaaaayyyy outside the box on this one, because I’m still stuck on what actually constitutes abuse. If I was in a relationship and she hit me out of frustration gaming, I wouldn’t take it as abuse, but say another guy would. I’m thinking if there’s a be all to end all with physical abuse.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 1:03 pm

        Play punching and abuse are very different things (in my book). And it is very obvious when you’re in the situation. I “play” punch and wrestle with my fiance- and he does back- but there is never any second that I ever feel like my safety is in jeopardy or that either of our actions are coming from a malicious place. And that is the difference to me.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow May 7, 2012, 3:11 pm

        “Could it be that all people are abusive to an extent, but they are never surrounded by people that cause them to act out, or are all people innocent, and they surround themselves by people that make them abusive?”

        None of them, I think. Some people abuse others, some people don’t. Those who do look for excuses, and those usually take the shape of “you maked me abuse you because you xxx”. Also, people who do abuse others are very good at spotting people who would tolerate it, that’s why some “victims” are abused by different people at different times. You can just tell they’d put up with it.

        I also think that no matter how fucked up you are you can’t make a healthy person abuse you. They will just leave. If there’s any way you can push someone’s buttons until they hit you, it’s because they were ready and willing in the first place.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow May 7, 2012, 3:12 pm

        lol @ “maked”. I obviously meant “made”.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow May 7, 2012, 3:15 pm

        Oh and I said “victims” instead of victims because I don’t like the term, but don’t like “survivor” either (we already discussed this once). Not because I think they’re not being victimized, just because it feels wrong to make that fact the most important one. Bad things that happened to someone shouldn’t be enough to describe that person, I think.

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      • avatar

        Pinky May 7, 2012, 4:17 pm

        My ex used to pick fights at 10: 30 at night when I had to get up at 6:00 in the morning for work. I would be chronically exhausted. He would pick fights over some bizarre word choice on my part while he was driving the car. He would then drive at reckless speeds and whip around corners and cut other cars off while yelling at me. He would then demand that I apologize to him and was never satisfied with the type of apology that I gave. He would continue to berate me until my apology was satisfactory.

        He would tell me that his friends hated me. He would go into detail about all of the ghastly things that they would say about me. He would then become enraged when I wouldn’t want to go out with his friends. After haranguing me to attend functions with him, he would become angry because I was silent and not interacting with his friends. Of course, I had to apologize. After I cut off contact with him, I called a few of the friends to see if they had actually said these things. They were suitably horrified that I was asking them these questions. Because, as it seems, he reported to them that I said horrible things about his friends, which I would never do. It seems he had quite the field day misrepresenting both sides.

        He used to tell me that no one else would want me and that I was lucky to have him because he put up with me. He did the “you’re crazy” statement a lot.

        He also wouldn’t take “no” for an answer when it came to sex. So, spousal rape happened way more times than I’m comfortable discussing.

        I’m an attractive, educated woman. I have a wonderful group of friends. I have a great job. How did this happen? It ramped up in increments. It was like the boiling frog syndrome. If you toss a frog in hot water, it will jump out. If you slowly increase the heat, the frog stays in the water until it dies from the heat.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 4:48 pm

        That’s exactly it. The boiling frog syndrome. I was also isolated because we had moved in together 2000 miles away from our hometown.

        My ex used to do a lot of those things you are describing. He would get in my face and scream, “CUNT BITCH WHORE” etc. and sometimes throw water at me. He destroyed things in the apartment, kicked my cat, killed his rat, punched holes, CRIED, threatened to hurt himself if I left, physically blocked me if I tried to get away from him (I always thought you should remove yourself from these types of situations, but running away or ignoring him only made it worse). He broke the door down if I tried to lock myself in the bedroom to get away from him. He did the thing about the friends hating me too, and alienated me from my own friends and famlily. He would never let me go anywhere wtihout him. He was “protecting” me from guys hitting on me. He said he “heard” that I got raped once when I was passed out drunk and he didn’t want that to happen again (it didn’t happen in the first place). He would take my phone and my car and leave me alone for sometimes days at a time (in a REALLY unsafe neighborhood). GOD what a nightmare. And the whole time, while I was *in* it, I couldn’t see it for what it was. I didn’t realize the severity of what I was dealing with until I was far removed from the situation (and THAT’s when the depression and anger set in).

        Will? Are you getting a better idea of what abuse is by reading our stories?

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        GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 5:09 pm

        Oh my goodness my ex used to cry and guilt me into somehow thinking I was making him act that way! It was the worst! Or he would cry and tell me I was the only person who would ever love him or some other kind of crazy reverse psyhcology crap that only further made me feel like I was the one who was messed up. Ugh. Those days sucked.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 5:43 pm

        Yeah! My ex would straight up say that I was “making” him act that way.

        Ugh he also used to read my diaries. Or grab one and threaten to read it and play keepaway if he was mad at me. I wasn’t allowed to have private thoughts.

        Although, I admit, toward the end I started fighting back. Not physically because, duh, it wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere (except maybe the hospital), but verbally. I would tell him what a piece of shit he was and how much I hated him and probably so much worse. I just couldn’t take it anymore. He broke me. And what made it worse was that I could see that he had wanted me to fight back all along. He got some sick pleasure out of it, like it meant I “cared” about him or something twisted and warped. I hated that he “won” by breaking me down.

        I tried breaking up with that ass OVER and over and over and he wouldn’t “let” me. He would either threaten to harm himself, indirectly threaten to harm me, or just pretend like it never happened.

        And like Pinky, I thought I was too smart for this to happen to me, or too feminist, or too proud. I “knew better.” But no. It happened. And I think a lot of the anger I had toward the end was directed at myself as much as (or more than) it was directed at him. I couldn’t believe I had “let” all that happen.

        Sorry, this is therapeutic right now, getting it all out. Whew!

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      • JK

        JK May 7, 2012, 5:51 pm

        I just wanted to say thank you gatorgirl, catsmeow, pinky and rainbow.
        Hopefully the LW is paying attention, and your stories will help her realize that it does get better (to steal Dan Savage´s line)

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      • avatar

        Pinky May 7, 2012, 11:10 pm

        Oh, yeah, the “you’re MAKING me do this.” I remember that. *shudder*

        Ah, the breaking. When I finally gave up, I learned how to say, “You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m sorry.” to EVERYTHING because EVERYTHING was my fault. Eventually, it turned into total emotional numbness. “You’rerightI’mwrongI’msorry,” became my automatic response. I completely withdrew emotionally. Nothing was worth the fight anymore. I’m not sure if it was fighting back. He WANTED a fight. I just removed the energy from it. I stopped caring. Then, I had a pregnancy scare (thank God I wasn’t). The scare was like a bolt of lightning. I moved out while he was on a camping trip.

        In my stupidity/naivete, I agreed to be friends. He tried everything to get me to come back to him, but eventually, I had to move/change my number/change my car/block him from my e-mail, etc. When I was still figuring out the social media privacy filters, he found me on FaceBook and send me a wildly inappropriate letter. He wondered what the hell was wrong with me that I should hate him so much and he doesn’t know what he did wrong to make me cut him out of my life.

        Oh, he never officially hit me. I guess being an emotionally abusive, manipulative control freak rapist was enough for me. I’m crazy that way.

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  • avatar

    Caris May 7, 2012, 11:08 am

    Don’t fall into his trap. Him being nice after getting abusive is typical, abusers always do this to trap their victims. And please DON’T move in with him, it will be much easier for him to isolate you if you do this.

    I have a friend who dated this guy for about 4 months. First week in he told her he loved her. She came to me and another friend saying she wanted to dump him because how the hell is it possible for him to love her if they had only been together for a week! Unfortunately she didn’t leave him. She’d pretty much come to me every week saying she wanted to dump him, but an excuse would always come up. At first she complained about his jealousy, how he’d get jealous any time she talked to a male, and when he realized she was talking to me about their problems he would get mad whenever she talked to me. He asked her to stop talking to me about their problems because it was none of my business (she kept talking to me anyway). While they were in the rs I just thought he was extremely jealous, but after she finally left him she told me all this other things that I wish I had known. One time she tried breaking up with him, he called saying he was hurting himself because of her. She was so desperate that she called her aunt who lived near his house, to go check up on him. He told her she’d pay for doing that. Turned out he was not hurting himself and was only trying to make her feel bad so she wouldn’t leave him. He also lied about his dad being sick, said that so that no one would know he was flying back to his country to get medical treatment for himself. He was taken to a mental hospital by my friends mom, who paid for his medication, and he kept saying he didn’t have the money to pay her back. My friend had to call his mom personally and go to the back with him to get her money back. This one time he also refused to let her out of his apartment, my friend instead of just leaving and tell him to f off, stayed arguing with him until 3am in the morning and ended up staying in his apartment. He almost hit her that time. Whenever he stayed in her house, she slept with her sister and locked the door cause she was afraid he’d try to do something to her or even her sister.

    He’d always say he was sorry and my friend kept going back to him. I am glad she was able to finally leave him, but she had to use him going back to his country as an excuse. And then when he returned he asked her WHY she had left him -_-. Fortunately by then my friend had her sanity restored. (also, he kept trying to communicate with her after my friend asking him to please cease communication)

    Sorry this was so long, but I hope that maybe it helps you out.

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    • avatar

      Caris May 7, 2012, 11:09 am

      to the bank****

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  • avatar

    jubietta May 7, 2012, 11:20 am

    LW – my test for this situation is wondering how you feel when you’re at “his place” compared to how you feel when you get “home.” Do you relax when you cross your threshold knowing that you can be exactly who you are, do exactly what you want and not worry about what anyone thinks or says or does? Can you feel that way around BF? Or do you feel like you have to “behave” or “monitor” or “watch?” Do you feel responsible for predicting his behavior and then find yourself modifying your actions to “manage” him? Answers to these questions will define the power dynamic in your relationship – and if he holds a majority of the power (stolen from you by his temper and violence and drinking) then there are very few morally-acceptable actions that will rebalance the power scales and it would be healthier for you to focus your future on someone else.

    I think he can change, but he has to make the choice and do it for himself…not as a condition for anything external like a primary relationship. He has to know what his boundaries are and make sure that he holds the best interests of the people he loves in such high regard that his own instincts change. It’s likely his anger/violence/abuse are learned behavior and are so deeply rooted that they’re at that instinctual level. Instinct, gut-level-knee-jerk-reactions, are very hard to change.

    As an abuse survivor I have one “line in the sand” with Mr. J — if he hits me he’ll never see me again. If I hit him, he’ll never see me again. I’ve explained it and he’s aware. It’s not up for negotiation, no matter how much it hurts to think of the consequences. In 27 years neither of us has ever thrown a tantrum (drunk or not), thrown a physical object or touched each other in anger. It’s very possible, and a wonderful change from my history. I never have that feeling that “I just don’t want to go home right now.” I never hesitate to answer his calls. I can be myself, the very core of myself, around him and I never wonder if anything I do is going to come back on me in a violent way.

    If you can honestly get there with your BF then it’s a good relationship and worth fighting for. If not, it’s time to change your power dynamic…take back what’s yours and step away. Be friends if you MUST stay in his life, but take your heart and soul and find someone else to share them with.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow May 7, 2012, 11:46 am

      Excellent, excellent points you make.

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        jubietta May 7, 2012, 6:10 pm

        Danke!

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  • dabbler

    dabbler May 7, 2012, 11:40 am

    Don’t ignore the warning signs. I’m sure he does have his redeeming qualities, but then they all do. 
    I have a friend in an abusive marriage. Ironically, her husband was the guy that “saved” her from her previous abusive relationship, so who would have thought he’d turn around and do the same? Things started out great, he treated her so well, did so much for her. Eventually, she ignored the red flags when they started to show up, got pregnant, got married. As far as I know, things haven’t gotten physical for a little while now, but he is still verbally and emotionally abusive pretty much on a daily basis. He cheated, but she had to give up almost all of her friends to his controlling tendencies. 
    Their 4 year old son is developing serious emotional problems growing up in this environment, and he treats her like trash, because that’s what daddy does, and he’s learning that is acceptable. 
    She is a beautiful, smart, funny girl, and is living the shell of the life she could have, had she walked away when she had the chance. 
     He is showing you who he is. You were strong enough to walk away, be strong enough to stay away. He’s on his best behavior because he’s trying to win you back. People are abusive because there is something in them that is fundamentally broken, that they think it is ok to treat someone that way. If he’s already showing signs of not being able to control his temper (while he’s still on his best behavior), how do you think this is going to play out further down the line.? Once you move in, get married, have kids? When he can’t control his anger at the baby screaming at night, or when his three year old drips Popsicles all over the house? 
    The roller coaster your life will be just isn’t worth it, never knowing if you’re going to wake up next to Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.  

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 7, 2012, 12:06 pm

    I have a strict policy on this. You hit me — you hit the road. No exceptions. I’m simply not going to spend the rest of my life worrying about whether or not you’ll do it again.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      Iwannatalktosampson May 7, 2012, 2:49 pm

      I love the way you simplified it. This kind of reasoning is always really persuasive to me. Like break it down. We have very little time on this earth – do you want to spend it with a partner you can’t ever fully trust? It’s cliche but there really are so many fish in the sea.

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    • avatar

      jubietta May 7, 2012, 4:39 pm

      Do you take that policy the other direction: I hit you — I hit the road?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 7, 2012, 5:19 pm

        No, I routinely beat my boyfriends senseless… But it’s only because I am so misunderstood. And they know — deep down — that I just love them oh-so-much. Of course it helps that I’ve taught them all that nobody else would ever want them.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow May 7, 2012, 5:47 pm

        XD

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        jubietta May 7, 2012, 6:16 pm

        How cavalier. I was asking a serious question…care to take a stab at it without the sarcasm?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 7, 2012, 6:21 pm

        Sure. I’ve actually never hit a significant other. (Well, unless he asked for it.) And I mean that quite literally… As in we were in a bit of a role play exercise, if you will. (An occupational hazard of watching too many Madonna videos.) So watch out, children. Those banned 1990s videos will ONLY give you ideas…

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl May 7, 2012, 5:11 pm

      See I had that “policy” but he never flat out HIT me. Shove, shake, grab, push…but no hitting. That’s where I quickly slid into being the abusee because my hard and fast rule didn’t cover my grey area.

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      • SweetsAndBeats

        SweetsAndBeats May 8, 2012, 5:28 am

        I too have experienced abuse, from multiple men, and the best advice I can give regarding the “sliding” into abuse is that if I have to stop and question it – “Is this okay? Should I be upset about this behavior of his?” then there is something weird going on. I take a big step back and thoroughly think the situation through. Even small warning signs, while they may not necessarily mean the man is an abuser, can mean that the guy isn’t right for me simply because his mannerisms set my bells ringing. Of course I go to therapy and regularly discuss such concerns with a counsellor – I really don’t suggest flying blind with such baggage. But there is something to be said for gut instinct, and also that certain women just seem to have a propensity for ending up with abusers and thusly should be on alert.

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        Pinky May 8, 2012, 9:37 am

        GatorGirl, ditto.

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  • Kristina

    Kristina May 7, 2012, 12:15 pm

    LW, you spend the last 4 paragraphs trying to convince yourself that it’s okay to stay with him, even though you know it really is a MOA situation. It’s true that some abusers change–but, I don’t think it’s realistic enough to assume he will change while he is with you. If he really wanted to change, he would–but it can be hard for anyone to know, and ultimately I do not think it’s worth it. Because you will always be wondering when the next time is–even if it’s 10 years down the road. The cycle is incredibly hard to break.

    My first “boyfriend”–and I use that term lightly, since I was 12–hit me and I stayed for too long because I had no idea of what a relationship would really look like. And if my current boyfriend ever hit me or abused me in any way, I don’t care how long we’ve been together–I would be gone in an instant.

    You talk about how much you care about him and have never felt that way about anyone else–and sorry, but I don’t think it’s true love when the other person abuses you, even if it was only one time. That’s toxic love, and it’s not something worth trying to fix, because it’s practically unfixable. And moving together is the last thing you need to do right now. It’s a lot harder to leave–whether just leaving for a night, or leaving permanently, if someone is being abusive towards you. And from your letter, I don’t think you have any indication that he has truly changed.

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  • MackenzieLee

    ColorsOfTheWind May 7, 2012, 12:20 pm

    I understand why you are having a hard time moving on. Wendy did a wonderful job of explaining that just because you have a connection doesn’t mean you should date him, nevertheless move in with him. If you listen to nothing else PLEASE DO NOT MOVE IN WITH HIM.

    Throughout your note you seem to downplay what he has done and make excuses for him. I understand that. Recently I did the same thing with a guy i was seeing and I didn’t even have any history with him. I can only imagine that adds to it. For me the first time he pushed me around when he was drunk i wrote it off as just being drunk. The second time i said he didn’t know his own stregnth it took until a third night when one of the douhiest guys i know saw him push me as came over to yell at him that i realized yes the guy i was seeing was one nice, smart and aconplishbanyan he was violent when drunk. The whole thing taught me even nice guys can be violent and even jerkish guys can treat women well. No amount of deans lists will fix your boyfriend. Do the hard thing. Mao. In the future you will thank yourself and wonder why you even thought of putting up with this

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  • dandywarhol

    dandywarhol May 7, 2012, 1:09 pm

    This really could have been a shortcut…
    “No, he cannot change and you are better than this.”
    But I guess that doesn’t address the severity of the situation. LW, you are trying to convince yourself that deep down, he cares about you, loves you, you’re a great fit etc. Don’t do that. If you have to convince yourself that he’s good, then he’s not. I spent the last two or three of my relationships doing that and it gets you nowhere except wasted time. I would maybe recommend you finding a therapist to see why you are so attached to this man. Once you get this power struggle/loss of trust in a relationship, you should just MoA.

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  • Heather

    Heather May 7, 2012, 4:47 pm

    ” In real life, someone can love you and you can love him and that doesn’t mean you’re right for each other or that your bond erases the bad stuff between you enough for you to be happy together.”

    This, so many times. If it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this statement. LW, you deserve to be happy. By staying with this man you will be selling yourself short.

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    SpyGlassez May 7, 2012, 5:03 pm

    One time, during an argument with my BF of almost 3 years very early on, he punched a wall and left a hole. It happened because some of what I went through with my dad had come to light (my dad could be verbally abusive, though he really has gotten better with medication and therapy, and he is not who he was when I was growing up). The BF couldn’t do anything about my dad, and was angry at me for defending my dad, and in frustration he hit the wall. That is the only time in all the time I have known him that he has ever hit ANYTHING. I have no fear of him striking me or our potential children. Also, as I said, since my dad has admitted fault for his past behavior, and is getting help, the BF doesn’t have the same anger about my dad. So yes, in the case of my dad, someone who has been abusive *can* change, but it takes years and dedication and a lot of humility and admitting to faults. And in the case of the BF, just because one time someone gets angry and leaves a mark on a wall, it doesn’t mean they will escalate to full-fledged abuse. But if I had ANY doubts about the BF, or ever felt threatened by him, I would be out the door and he knows it.

    Also, FWIW, I was once on the cusp of what some might call abusive. I had anger issues, I had struck out at someone before in rage, I had knocked over a bookcase full of books in a fight (not with the current BF). I recognized what was happening and spent the next 4 years single, working on myself, before I ever got into a relationship. If this guy really invested the time to get over his issues, instead of doing damage control, then yes – he could maybe be “fixed.” But he has to fix himself FOR HIMSELF, not for you or anyone else, or else he will never actually change.

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  • MELH

    MELH May 7, 2012, 7:27 pm

    I just wanted to throw out there that Wendy, I always love your writing, but I think this is one of the most beautifully written answers to a column you have posted.

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    MiMi May 7, 2012, 10:25 pm

    LW, this fellow is not nearly healed enough to be a good and safe partner for anyone, and likely never can be a good partner for you. Whatever his neuroses and issues are, they mesh well with your own neuroses and issues and that’s why you are still tangled up in this web and haven’t made yourself break away completely. Yeah, it’s special, but not good special, unhealthy special. Don’t let “you’re the only one I ever loved like this” and “why don’t we move in together when your lease runs out” kid you into thinking this is a demonstration of heartfelt transformation. It is pressure tactics to get you back under control, especially when you have all the evidence in the world that he hasn’t changed much over a period of YEARS. Do you need to be klopped on the head before you see the light? Get away and stay away.

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    DMR May 8, 2012, 5:10 am

    I think Wendy’s right.

    At first, I was thinking this: “You two are in love; a one-off brain snap is not a sign of a pattern of behavior; plus he really wants to change and do better.” But notice that he still has temper issues. As in, today. Present tense. Therefore…. it could happen again.

    He may have changed (I do believe people can change); but keep a couple of things in mind.

    1. He’s on his best behavior right now because you two are starting fresh
    2. He’s trying really hard to change; this means his temper’s more under control but it’s probably hard work for him and he’ll regress when he stops putting in the effort
    3. The longer you stay in the relationship, the harder it will be to get out. If you screw up and make the wrong call, it will cost you years of your life.
    4. People don’t carry a big sign around saying “I will be abusive to you.” They hide their true nature for as long as possible. It’s your job to see the clues.

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    Mlippart May 8, 2012, 6:28 am

    Sure, you could stay . . . or you can find someone who you aren’t afraid of, someone who doesn’t have anger issues (so weird when people use that to explain/justify abuse- I mean, who cares?). Couples counseling implies that you guys need to work on your communication. That is false. YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. He is. Also, his accomplishments don’t seem all that special. It seems like finishing school, getting a job, and finding an apartment on your own are what normal people do. The fact that you think this was some big deal also seem to imply this dude is not only violent but pretty lame. How is quitting a high stress job an accomplishment?

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      demoiselle May 8, 2012, 12:14 pm

      And isn’t it funny how those “anger issues” so often come out in private, in controlled situations, with the girlfriend/fiancee/wife/partner, and yet the person with such severe “anger issues” that they “just can’t help themselves” *usually* doesn’t beat up their boss, hit their girlfriend in public, or get so out of control that they leave bruises in places that are visible?

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