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Your Turn: “My Boyfriend Wants to Kill My Dog”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

Two years ago dated a guy I really liked. We broke up, got back together, then a little while later split up again. We stopped speaking and I tried to move on, thinking he liked someone else better. Not long after, I started talking to someone new. We hooked up a few times and we both lost “it” to each other. We started dating, and soon after and I went off to college.

We talked about breaking up — at the time everyone was telling me he was too controlling and a little mean — but I was falling. We ended up taking a break after I went to college — it was his idea — and I was heart broken. We then realized we wanted each other and got back together promising this was it forever. I’ve been so sure about him until…lately.

There are little things that bug me like him hating my best girl friend. He is a little controlling. He hates the sand I love the beach. I have a very big soft spot for animals and love my adopted dog and he hates her and tells her he’s going to kill her. He tells me he’s gonna kick her across the room if she bites him. He rarely ever apologizes because his pride gets in the way a lot. He tells me to shut up and I can’t stand that. (We recently talked about that though and he’s working on it). These little things build up and make me wonder if I want to be with him forever or if there’s someone who could make me really happy.

I read somewhere that your partner is supposed to make you feel like a better person. But since I’ve started dating this guy I’ve lost many friends, don’t do anything without him, don’t text or call anyone but him or occasionally a girlfriend or family. Lately, I’ve just really been thinking how I wish I would’ve waited and stayed single for a little while after my ex to fully get over him and get back on my own two feet.

About two months ago I started dreaming about my ex almost every night. I started thinking about him more than usual and got a very strong urge to talk to him and make sure we were ok because I don’t think we really had closure. It turns out he hasn’t even kissed another girl for almost two years (since we broke up). We talked things out and admitted we missed each other. We agreed that we needed to stop talking because it wasn’t fair to anyone, especially my boyfriend (who still has no idea we talked….he’d probably kill us both if he found out). But we ended our conversation with us both wishing I had done things different.

Back to my boyfriend — he really is great and funny and I cry when I think about not being with him. His father abandoned him at a young age and I said I’d never leave him. He depends on me for a lot and he’s been there for me through a lot. But the little things build up and I don’t like him as much as I did in the beginning. It’s only been a year and a half but he wants to propose in about a year (when I get out of nursing school). I’m so confused and hurt and tired of faking being happy all the time I don’t know what to do anymore. Advice? — Caught Between the Past and the Present


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar artsygirl January 28, 2013, 3:05 pm

WTF – dump his ass and change the locks. Also, do NOT get back with your ex. Just take some time to figure out what you want and stay away from controlling guys. The best way to tell a person’s personality is to see how they treat animals, children, and waiters.

bittergaymark bittergaymark January 28, 2013, 3:26 pm

I think it’s actually just one guy… I dunno, this letter gives me a headache. It’s hard to follow… But yeah, I think the ex and her boyfriend are one and the same in that it’s an on again off again mess of a relationship…

bittergaymark bittergaymark January 28, 2013, 3:30 pm

Scratch that. I’m wrong. She just has dated TWO controlling nutjobs… Nevermind. My mistake.

avatar artsygirl January 28, 2013, 3:44 pm

I hear you BGM. I had to read the letter a few times to try to straighten it out since she bounces from one guy to the next with little context in the narrative.

avatar kerrycontrary January 28, 2013, 3:11 pm

I think this was in the forums…But this guy is emotionally abusive. Anyone who threatens to hurt one of your animals is abusive. Get out now, while you can. Don’t answer his calls, change your locks, move if you have to. And even though you miss your ex, you need some time to be single. If you and your ex are meant to get back together you will, but there’s no rush for that.

landygirl landygirl January 28, 2013, 3:14 pm

LW, you have terrible taste in men. If this letter isn’t a fake then for gawdsakes break up with this loon and get yourself into therapy immediately.

Anyone who threatens a dog is psycho.

AKchic_ AKchic_ January 28, 2013, 3:14 pm

Get the fuck out of your current relationship. Period. From your description, he is an abuser. Plain and simple. Don’t consider the ex-boyfriend at this point. Just worry about the current mess you’re in. Do not look at this asshole’s “charming” attributes. Look at the negative ones. Those are the REAL personality traits. Not the nice ones that he shows you when he wants to be nice to you.

Get out now.

avatar mf January 28, 2013, 3:17 pm

Yes, this was posted in the forum. The LW posted an update yesterday that they broke, though he does want to work things out. I’m hoping she will stay strong and put some space between herself and this asshole.

FireStar FireStar January 28, 2013, 3:39 pm

This is definitely not a relationship issue you can work on or fix. Don’t look back LW!

bittergaymark bittergaymark January 28, 2013, 3:21 pm

Another real winner here at DW.


If he does that to the dog — just wait to see what he has in store for you. Seriously.

avatar artsygirl January 28, 2013, 3:46 pm

All I could think was if someone ever threatened my dogs I would remove their special bits with piano wire and a rusty spoon.

avatar artsygirl January 28, 2013, 3:47 pm

sorry meant to respond to jlyfsh!

avatar jlyfsh January 28, 2013, 3:52 pm

haha i like your description and i agree. i worry that if she were to have kids she would just as easily blow off threats to them. because in the forum she said he didn’t say it in a serious way. people don’t joke about that stuff and if they do i sure don’t want to be friends with them!

lemongrass Lemongrass January 28, 2013, 8:39 pm

As I read this letter I thought “you know, I’m just going to agree with BGM on this one.” Before reading your comment.

avatar jlyfsh January 28, 2013, 3:25 pm

She posted this in the forums too with an update that they broke up. Which hopefully she’s able to stick with.

And I’ll say again that if someone threatens to kill my dog, they’re gone. Which isn’t even your biggest issue.

I hope you surround yourself with the friends and family you’ve been putting aside during this relationship and are able to stay strong and away from him.

FireStar FireStar January 28, 2013, 3:37 pm

That’s great she broke up with him! Good for her – and I hope she realizes she needs to cut off all contact and move on completely.

avatar EricaSwagger January 28, 2013, 3:32 pm


FireStar FireStar January 28, 2013, 3:34 pm

Controlling, threatening, isolating behaviour is abusive behaviour. It will get worse, not better. What exactly has to happen for you to leave? Does he have to follow through on his threats? Must he hurt your dog? Destroy all of your self-esteem? Even hurt you? When someone tells you something about themselves – BELIEVE them. They know themselves better than anyone else. Could you imagine saying the things he says? No? Because you are not cruel or abusive? What he is telling you is that HE IS. He is cruel. He is abusive. And you know because he told you so and he has shown you so.

They say when you know better, you do better. LW, now you know. Make better choices. You are responsible for your animal’s well being – as well as your own. There really is no justification for his behaviour. Or yours either, really, should you continue with this relationship.

CatsMeow CatsMeow January 28, 2013, 3:47 pm

Agreed. This right here is enough. This IS abusive behavior. When I was young(er) and dumb(er), I stayed for too long in an abusive relationship because I thought, “Well, he hasn’t physically hurt me so it’s OK,” or “He hasn’t actually followed through on the threats he’s using to control me and scare me,” or “He was just drunk.” I thought he was depressed and he needed me. Nope. He was an ass and he was using me. He kicked my cat and beat the crap out of me. LW, you do NOT need to wait until something like this happens to justify leaving. I know that you said in the forums that you already broke up with him, but I hope that seeing all these fresh reactions to your situation will drive it home to you that you did the right thing.

thewriteway thewriteway January 28, 2013, 3:35 pm

GET OUT NOW!!! I’m not sure much else needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway…why would you stay with someone who threatens to hurt an animal like that? Are you THAT desperate to be in a relationship?

The stupidity of people who stay in these crap relationships and then expect sympathy amaze me.

avatar GatorGirl January 28, 2013, 3:39 pm

Seriously run away from both of these boys. Seriously, like, put your tennis shoes on and run in the opposite direction.

You deserve better then either of these boys have given you.

avatar painted_lady January 28, 2013, 3:39 pm

This may be overly obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: you sound really sad at the thought of being without him. Why? Is it because of actual stuff you’ll actually miss, or because of stuff he’s told you. Do you feel badly abandoning him because you genuinely love him, or because of what he’s told you in order to get your pity? As in, have you seen how terrible his family is, or have you seen people being horrible to him? I don’t want to blame the victim, but if *everyone* he’s ever loved has abandoned him, something is up. Are you with him because you genuinely love him and like him and enjoy his company, or are you with him because he’s told you you’re really in love and the things you don’t enjoy about him are stupid and petty? Are you with him because you know he’s the best person for you or because he’s told you you won’t find anyone who loves you like he does, like he’s doing you some enormous favor? These are distinctions you can’t afford to miss. There is a difference between loving someone and wanting to be with them, and believing what you’re told.

Hopefully you are the poster from the forums, but even if you dumped his ass, these things still stand. You haven’t heard the last of him, trust, and you need to learn to listen to how you feel before you can know why you aren’t taking him back.

avatar painted_lady January 28, 2013, 4:06 pm

Oh, also, telling you to “shut up?” That’s not something you work on. It’s not like losing weight or spending less money. That is something you quit, full stop. Because you control the shit that comes out of your mouth, and if that shit isn’t okay, then you STOP.

Because what I envision here is him continuing to say it, and then when you point out that his behavior is still unacceptable, he gets pissed and insists he’s working on it – lay off! GOD!

Kate B. Kate B. January 28, 2013, 3:52 pm

sounds like this guy is an abuser. He is controlling, isolates you, make you afraid to talk to your ex and threatened to kill your dog. Any one who threatens to kill my dog is someone I don’t need to be around. (Not to mention, studies show that people who hurt animals often go on to hurt people.) Run from this guy and take some time to get to know yourself. Listen to those feelings you have. Fixing his life because his father left him isn’t your responsibility, it’s his. Any relationship where you have to “fake being happy” is no relationship at all.

avatar handy0318 January 28, 2013, 3:54 pm

“There are little things that bug me”

Honey, these aren’t “little things”…

These are big ass, king size sheet sized red flags telling you to get out of Kansas with your little dog. Seriously, you need to get out of the relationship and then check into some counseling to see why you are selling yourself short and willing to remain with someone, diminishing not only your own needs but also his abusive behavior.

avatar summerkitten26 January 28, 2013, 3:57 pm

Please leave this guy. At the very least, you’re not happy and you’re yearning to get out (otherwise you wouldn’t have written this long letter asking what you should do…you know what you want to do). Please look at the language you used. Not a single thing describes your boyfriend in a positive light. Especially concerning to me is that when you mentioned talking to your ex, the words you used were “he’d kill us both if he found out,” which normally I’d write off except that you’ve described/highlighted the major red flags in an abusive relationship. He threatens your dog with physical violence. He is emotionally abusive towards you (and no, he’s not getting better, he’s just waiting until you’re down so he can start calling you stupid or worse again). There’s no proper communication (he doesn’t ever apologize (Ever? not even when he’s wrong?) and you’re reaching out to your ex for emotional consolation). Please leave him and call in the reinforcements. The friends you don’t see anymore are still your friends. Make sure you’ve got a safe place to stay WHEN (not if) you leave – I don’t doubt this guy would get violent or stalkery. And don’t go back to your ex immediately (or at all, maybe). Give yourself the time you need to be okay with yourself (and safely separated from this dude), and only then consider a new relationship with someone else.

avatar SherBear January 28, 2013, 4:05 pm

Are you kidding me?!?! If someone EVER threatened to hurt my dog I’d cut them out of my life PERMANENTLY – what are you trying to do here, see if his threats are empty or not??? I judge guys by how they treat animals – if he wants to kick a dog he is missing basic human empathy. I have some guy friends who are scared of dogs but make an effort with my dog bc they know how much she means to me – and they are the ones I find feeding her when I’m not looking (she is quite the lover).

But seriously, I do volunteer work with an animal shelter in Chicago and one thing I’ve learned about the bad side of people is there is a VERY strong co-relation between violence to animals and domestic violence. My shelter has a program called Exploring the Link for at-risk teens and they spend an entire semester learning about this very issue. If a guy is threatening to harm your animal you will be next. It’s not because he’s not an animal person, it’s because he has extreme rage and control issues. A guy that has no problem hitting a dog will have no problem hitting you. Get out NOW while you still can, you do not want to get to the point where he hurts your dog when you try to leave.

Here is a great article on the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/domestic-violence-and-animal-cruelty

avatar Taylor January 28, 2013, 4:07 pm

***I read somewhere that your partner is supposed to make you feel like a better person.***
This is true letter writer! Never trust a man that would hurt an animal (or a person for that matter). And don’t date people that you think will kill you if you are talking to an ex. Yegads.

avatar DBeau January 28, 2013, 4:11 pm

Oh honey… if you saw this as a letter from someone else, i hope you’d tell them that there is a lot of things that would need to change in order for it to be a healthy relationship. Over time, a good relationship should become more solid as you are able to depend on each other more and learn how to support each other. Unfortunately, it sounds like as time goes by you’ve gotten more scared, annoyed, and isolated as a result of this relationship. You have to do what’s right for you, and you sound like what you need is to take a break from this guy- a real break- and realize that you need to be living your own life right now. focus on school, get back with the friends who you’ve lost (maybe some new ones too), give your dog some TLC and remember that you deserve something better out of a relationship!

avatar Essie January 28, 2013, 6:15 pm

Sadly, I don’t think she would say that if she read a letter like this from someone else. She’s grown up on tripe like “Twilight”, and thinks if your relationship isn’t a complete melodramatic cluster, it’s not ‘passionate’ enough.

avatar 6napkinburger January 28, 2013, 4:16 pm

Timeline check: Correct me if I’m wrong:

LW was 16 when she started dating BF1.
LW was somewhere in betweeen 16-18 when she broke up with BF1 and started dating BF2.
LW went to college, graduating at 22, dating BF2 the whole time. When LW was 22, she graduated and he said he wanted to take a break.
LW was 22-23 when “they” decided they wanted to be together
LW, is, I’m guessing, somewhere betweeen 23-24 and is with BF2, and is dreaming about BF1. LW talks to BF1 and they both wish she had done something different — when she was 16ish?

I’m confused how she could be dating LW2 for at least 4 years — and LW1 for what, 6 months? — and THE problem is she didn’t wait long enough after LW1 before dating LW2. Um, no. The problem is LW2 is a horrible boyfriend, is probably a horrible person, and makes you miserable. The problem with LW1 is that you were 16 when you dated him and your rosy glasses of the time before LW2 are making you miss the only relationship you were in that didn’t suck.

There is no “woe is me, I wish we had done things differently” at 23. If you think you want to be with LW1, dump LW2 and date LW1.

You are staying with someone because you told them you wouldn’t leave them, because his father left him? You realize how crazy that sounds? You HEARD that you are supposed to be happier with your SO then without them and its dawning on you that you aren’t? Break up with LW2 and see if you are happier without him in about 6 months. And then maybe date LW1. Or date someone else.

I know that life can make it seem like the theatrics and the drama are inevitable and appropriate. But they aren’t — you are too young for this to seem like a hard question. Listen to everyone else who is giving great advice on how to deal with abusers (I’m not sure if saying that he’ll kill the dog if he bites him rises to that level — it REALLY depends on context and delivery — I’m pretty sure most pet owners have said “I’m gonna kill this damn dog” at some point on finding a new shoe chewed or “present” on the rug, just as most normal parents have said “I’m gonna kill her” talking about their well-loved child, when said child leaves her shoes in the hallway causing said parent to trip, again).

And if for some reason, you can’t stop feeling guilty, remember this: he was the one who took a break. If he had the right to take a break, despite all of his promises and love, etc, then you get to too. Taking a break is ok, even within the crazy rules established in this relationship. You should have no guilt seeing if you are happier without him.

avatar Mr. Cellophane January 28, 2013, 7:45 pm

6, my math works a little differently. She seems much younger than that to me.
I think the timeline is more like…started seeing BF1 at about age 16. Dated for about 6 months, broke up and got back together before breaking up completely…still 16. Started seeing DB, er, BF2 while still in HS, 17ish, then graduation and continued to see him while starting college (which I am sure he didn’t like, vis a vis break up and make up). Two years into her “relationship” with him she is 19 and, hopefully, still in college, (if he hasn’t pressured her into quitting…yet) which he probably still doesn’t like as “the boyfriend back home”.

Just my math…she seems very young, naive and vulnerable. It is DB’s like this that give men a bad reputation.

avatar Elle Marie January 28, 2013, 4:21 pm

I did peer counseling in college, and one of the things we were trained on was signs of psychological abuse. One of the things I remember most, even though this was years ago, was that when evaluating a situation, look to see whose world is getting smaller as a result of the relationship. If a loved one is forcing you (or forcing others) to give up friendships, to limit time spent away from the relationship, it is a huge red flag. It is normal/okay to want someone you are in a relationship with to ask you to spend time with him/her. It is NOT normal/okay for someone to isolate you from your friends and family.

Please, PLEASE, end things and don’t look back. No second or third chances, no listening to promises of change – get out, get away, and stay that way. You are worthy of being loved by someone who appreciates all that you are, and doesn’t try to limit your love of life and the world outside of your relationship.