Walk away now — this is no ‘re­la­tion­ship’

The Hamilton Spectator - - WEATHER FORECAST - el­liead­vice.com

Q. I’m mid-20s, in a one-year “re­la­tion­ship,” head over heels in love. I can see my­self with this woman for the rest of my life.

I’ve had some mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships be­fore her, but I be­lieve she’s “the one,” my soul­mate.

The is­sue: Her boyfriend of over four years.

She’s re­peat­edly told me she loves me, we “act” like we’re in a re­la­tion­ship to­gether, we talk and hang out more than she does with him.

Also, they carry very se­ri­ous bag­gage — i.e. her hav­ing to give up her fam­ily if she chooses to be with him long-term. She doesn’t want that to hap­pen. Yet she won’t break it off, al­though she’s fallen in love with some­one else (me) who will not force her to de­cide be­tween a re­la­tion­ship and her fam­ily.

This sit­u­a­tion doesn’t seem to be chang­ing. Is it time to back away?

A. Yes, back off. You al­ready know where this sit­u­a­tion is lead­ing.

He has a hold on her of some kind — per­haps they shared some bond that she’s kept se­cret from you, or she’s at­tracted to the “for­bid­den” na­ture of their con­nec­tion.

Mean­while, her fre­quently ex­pressed “love” for you is very self­serv­ing. She gets to have a “boyfriend” she can dis­play to her fam­ily, while also keep­ing up a long re­la­tion­ship with some­one else.

This isn’t the game you signed on to play. You’re sin­cere and open. She’s a mys­tery, since you have no idea what will hap­pen if you just hang on.

Walk away. You’re young and have many op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead to find a girl­friend who val­ues you alone.

Is brother-in-law abu­sive?

Q. When my brother-in-law first vis­ited our house, his wishes had to be re­spected, as he was a guest. But when we went to his house, his wishes still were first, as the boss.

Once, my sis­ter had left clean­ing ma­te­ri­als in the hall af­ter dis­in­fect­ing the pow­der room and he told her

sharply to get her stuff away, wav­ing his hand in dis­gust.

An­other time, my sis­ter cooked a very com­pli­cated soup and saved him some in a bowl as he came home very late af­ter work.

He dropped the oily wrap­ping from the soup and didn’t pick it up.

I cleaned the floor but felt he didn’t show re­spect for her cook­ing or her clean­ing.

An­other time, my sis­ter asked him to get some­thing very high up in the garage. Af­ter he helped her he left her to put back the big heavy lad­der.

My sis­ter’s al­ways on his side and de­fends him no mat­ter what others say.

Maybe he’s like a candy — hard on the out­side and sweet in­side (which only she sees).

Is my brother-in-law just full of him­self ?

A. You touch on the nerve of what causes you con­cerns: Your brother-in­law may be an abu­sive hus­band, or he may be a hard-worker who acts the tough guy be­fore others but doesn’t threaten or abuse your sis­ter.

Be sup­port­ive of her — close con­tact, help­ing out when vis­it­ing her, stay­ing in fre­quent touch by phone.

Ask gen­tle ques­tions that may lead her to con­fide e.g. if you no­tice anx­i­eties about how he’ll re­act to some­thing she’s said or done.

Pro­ceed care­fully. If he IS abu­sive, he may try to iso­late her from you and others.

How­ever, if you hear or see ev­i­dence of abuse, help her to plan safely to leave him and get help.

Women’s or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the YWCA and women’s shel­ters can be found on­line, but use a se­cure com­puter at a li­brary, if needed.

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