Life Advice



Ask Amy: Boyfriend’s behavior means ‘game over’

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My boyfriend of almost three years is very childish.

If I do something he does not like, he will try to “get me” back — or even the score in some way.

For instance, I do not want to do a particular act in the bedroom.

This act makes me super-uncomfortable, and I hate it.

No matter how many times I explain this to him, he says it's his favorite thing and that if I don't do it, then it's a deal-breaker.

Sometimes I suffer through it, but other times I flat out refuse.

The other day, I refused to do this.

Now he won't kiss me.

He says that since I won't do that for him, kissing is off the table until I do it.

How is that fair?

How can we navigate through this without calling it quits?

I want to make him happy, but I also don't want to do what he's asking me to do. Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

– Underperforming

Dear Underperforming: Couples definitely bargain and negotiate with one another over all sorts of things, including “acts in the bedroom.”

However, this is not a negotiation. This is … game over.

Definitely — a deal-breaker.

I wouldn’t describe your boyfriend’s behavior as “childish,” so much as “deeply troubling,” “manipulative,” “abusive.”

Those are only some words that come to mind. (There are others.)

He is coercing, manipulating, and – I assume — cornering you into doing something you have stated many times that you don’t want to do. This is something you “hate.”

Then, when he is not able to force you to do his “favorite thing,” he punishes you.

This is pretty much the definition of domestic abuse.

Currently, he is withholding affection. Later, he might punish you in other ways and for other reasons, if you don’t “make him happy.”

This is not connection. This is control.

Regular readers know that I rarely say this when people claim they want to work on their relationship, but – get out.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7. Their impressive website ( offers a wonderful “chat” function, available all-hours. You could “gut check” my reaction by calling or chatting online with a counselor: (800) 656-HOPE (4673).

Dear Amy: I have an older sister who has never treated me well — even as children.


We are now in our 60s and live 3,000 miles apart.

Her boyfriend's son and his fiance sent my husband and me a “Save the Date” card for their wedding.

I have only met him twice. My husband has never met him.

We have two elderly dogs that will need boarding (one in bad health).

My sister has informed us we must get a hotel.

I was hurt when she did not attend my bridal shower years ago, which she referred to as “stupid.”

My in-laws never understood why she was so rude. I was so embarrassed.

She really wants me to go to this wedding and will be hurt if I don't.

I don't want to do this.

Do I have to?

– Hurting Sister

Dear Hurting: You have free will. You don’t need my permission to turn down an invitation to a faraway event for a stranger that will be extremely challenging for you to attend.

Nor do you need to justify your decision.

All you need to do is to be polite and gracious, thanking the couple for the invitation, and telling your sister that unfortunately it’s simply too challenging for you to make the long trip right now.

Do not bring up ancient history.

If your sister is routinely mean to you, then she will probably respond in expected ways.

Don’t bite the hook. Understand that you may not be able to change her, but you can work on ways to change the way you react to her.

If she blows up at you, you can tell her, “I was upset about having to make this choice. But your reaction makes it easier. I hope the wedding goes well and I look forward to hearing about it. But let’s catch up another time.”

Dear Amy: I hope you will warn readers who might be receiving DNA testing kits as gifts, that the results can unlock mysteries, answer questions, and create problems.

I recently said hi to my new half-sibling, someone I didn’t know existed before we were linked through DNA.

– Be Forewarned

Dear Forewarned: I hope you don’t characterize this as a “problem,” but it certainly presents challenges – for both of you.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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