Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: I am a 22-year-old col­lege stu­dent. I re­cently broke up with my boyfriend. We still share an apart­ment, but we have our own rooms. I de­cided to end things be­cause I felt I was not be­ing

treated as well as I de­served. Plus, we fought al­most ev­ery day.

The fight­ing and frus­tra­tion raised my anx­i­ety to ex­tremely high levels. I al­most went to the hospi­tal twice be­cause of anx­i­ety at­tacks.

My ex still thinks we can work things out. I am on the fence about whether or not I should give him a chance. This is the first re­la­tion­ship of mine that did not end be­cause of cheat­ing, plus, he is one of the most non­judg­men­tal boyfriends I’ve ever had. How­ever, he is ir­re­spon­si­ble with bills, of­ten guilt-trips me into get­ting what he wants and seems to need to be in con­trol. He is open to com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but more of­ten than not, it seems to make things worse.

I know I wasn’t per­fect in our re­la­tion­ship. I wasn’t al­ways pa­tient when I should have been, or as sen­si­tive as he may have needed me to be. I do think that he has good qual­i­ties, but I fear he sim­ply wants to win me back and things will re­turn to nor­mal once he gets com­fort­able again. I also can’t risk my health, es­pe­cially when I am al­ready stressed out from school and work.

Is this re­la­tion­ship doomed, or should we try to work things out? — Torn About Tom

Dear Torn: If, at the ripe old age of 22, all of your pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ships have ended with cheat­ing, the mere ab­sence of cheat­ing may make this ro­mance seem bet­ter than the others.

But — fight­ing ev­ery day, or hav­ing anx­i­ety at­tacks brought on by your in­abil­ity to cope with your boyfriend, means that this re­la­tion­ship is also cheat­ing you of a healthy and pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

You are wise to try to take some own­er­ship for the is­sues that have sur­faced, and now your an­swer should be that you need to take time to fig­ure out who you are, not in re­la­tion to what­ever guy you’re in­volved with, but as a per­son in your own right.

You and your guy should both com­mit to a process of growth and change. Let him be­come the re­spon­si­ble, re­spect­ful per­son he wants to be, but tell him not to do this for you, but for him­self.

Promis­ing to change for an­other per­son is a shal­low propo­si­tion, al­most guar­an­teed to fail, long term.

I can’t char­ac­ter­ize your re­la­tion­ship as “doomed,” but I do know that you shouldn’t be in it un­less you know it is good for you.

Dear Amy: I re­cently planned a small din­ner at a restau­rant to cel­e­brate my birth­day.

One of the friends I in­vited is mar­ried to a man that my hus­band and I don’t care for — as re­cently as yes­ter­day I had to block him from my so­cial me­dia page due to his rants.

In all the years I’ve been friends with his wife, he has never come with her to a so­cial func­tion, so when I in­vited her to my birth­day cel­e­bra­tion it didn’t oc­cur to me that she would ask if he could also at­tend, but she did.

I know by ex­clud­ing him I will be ex­clud­ing her, and I do not want to do that. I think my only op­tion is to can­cel the whole thing. Do you see an­other op­tion? — Tied in So­cial Knots

Dear Tied: You can­not po­litely host a so­cial oc­ca­sion and ex­clude one spouse (if other spouses are in­cluded). Sit­u­a­tions such as this are why chal­leng­ing spouses are some­times thought of as “bag­gage.”

An­other op­tion to cancel­ing would be to carry on and po­litely wel­come all of your guests. If you have never seen this man at a so­cial event, his be­hav­ior at this one might sur­prise you. Be aware that if he has a habit of not at­tend­ing events with his wife — he might choose at the last minute not to come.

Dear Amy: I felt very sorry for “Deeply Dis­ap­pointed,” the man who saw how his wife en­abled her trou­bled 23-year-old son. Un­for­tu­nately, I know from ex­pe­ri­ence that a step­par­ent is very limited when it comes to the birth par­ents’ choices. I dealt with this in my own life. My wife wore rose-col­ored glasses when it came to her chil­dren, and it was a lonely par­ent­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me. — Step­fa­ther

Dear Step­fa­ther: Be­ing a step­par­ent is the tough­est par­ent­ing role there is.

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