The Morning Call (Sunday)

Break-up encounters should be negotiatio­ns

- By Amy Dickinson askamy@amydickins­on.com Twitter @askingamy Copyright 2021 by Amy Dickinson Distribute­d by Tribune Content Agency

DearAmy: I just got out of a nine-year relationsh­ip with a man I’m just now realizing was manipulati­ve and mean. Unfortunat­ely, he developed a drinking problem during our time together.

He broke things off twice, and I was the one who had to move out and lose my home and my dog.

After being apart this time, I started to see some things I had ignored before because I loved him so much. He is emotionall­y abusive at times, as we try to separate our items and as I try to purchase the house from him. He has said things like, “If you don’t drop this, I will take everything, and you’ll get nothing.” Or throwing it in my face that he’s glad we never got married.

I started therapy and have been going now for two years. My therapist has tried to guide me toward what’s healthy, but I think she knew I wasn’t ready to hear it. I was so in love.

I know now that breaking up is a blessing in disguise, but I’m struggling with his behavior because I loved this man for nine years, unconditio­nally.

How do I navigate this? How do I handle his behavior toward me while we figure things out?

— Struggling and Hurt

DearStrugg­ling: Like the old song says, “breaking up is hard to do,” even when you know in your bones that it is the right thing to do.

Immediatel­y post-breakup, your thoughts are still anchored to your ex, because being with him has conditione­d you to automatica­lly consider his thoughts and feelings before your own. That’s why your relationsh­ip was so imbalanced, and why he has disrespect­ed you. Your unspoken pact was that he mattered more than you do.

That impulse on your part is why it is important for you to learn to differenti­ate between his needs, and your own. You should now work hard to stop “handling” him at all.

If you are splitting up your household, think of these encounters as negotiatio­ns, not emotional relationsh­ip encounters.

When your encounters and negotiatio­ns veer into name-calling or emotional manipulati­on, you should steer it back to the bloodless practicali­ty of who gets the bookshelf.

DearAmy: I participat­e in a number of Zoom-based discussion groups. They have been a great way to remain in contact people. Zoom did not take off until COVID19 hit. But what happens when things return to “normal?”

I posed this question to one of my Zoom groups. The group had met for years in the back room of a local restaurant. With COVID-19’s arrival we switched to Zoom meetings. Most, but not all the former attendees joined. However, over time a number of out-of-towners joined the

Zoom group, some from outside the U.S.

My question to the group was what do we do as a group after COVID-19 is gone? Do we cease using Zoom and abandon the group members who can’t meet with us?

Do we resort to in-person meetings with some Zoom connection that brings everyone back together in a hybrid manner? What’s the next normal?

— Zooming By

DearZoomin­g: This is a great question. In my own community, where in-person worship service numbers have been greatly reduced by state mandates, we have developed a “hybrid” model of in-person meetings which are also accessible via Zoom.

I believe that this will become the “new normal,” which is ultimately a good thing! Bringing groups together via teleconfer­encing is one welcome consequenc­e of navigating our “new normal.”

DearAmy: I was disappoint­ed by your response to “Distressed,” when you described 12-step groups as “God-focused.”

Twelve-step groups suggest finding and relying on a power greater than yourself, of your own understand­ing, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with “god.”

A higher power can be anything from nature to the more traditiona­l deities. Whatever works!

— Agnostic 12-Stepper

DearAgnost­ic: I believe that 12-step programs work, which is why I recommend them. However, Debtors Anonymous, the 12-step program I recommende­d to “Distressed,” mentions “God” multiple times in their 12-steps, which is why I mentioned it.

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