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Ask Amy: Reader provides ‘update’ on abusive relationship

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Readers: Periodically, I ask for “Updates” regarding questions which have been published in this space. I am naturally curious about how things might have turned out for people who have received my advice.

This column is devoted to a Q&A that was originally published in 2021.

You can read the original question, followed by my answer. The update follows that.

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. It makes me super-uncomfortable. No matter how many times I explain this, he says it's his favorite thing and if I don't do it, then it's a deal-breaker. So sometimes I suffer through it, but other times I flat-out refuse.

Well, the other day, I refused.

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 in Rhode Island

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

Those are only some words that come to mind. (There are other words, of course, but – they aren’t publishable.)

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

This is not a negotiation. This is … game over.

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

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.

Now 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 love. This is control.

Regular readers know that I rarely say this, but – get out.

I’ll come and get you, myself.

 

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7. Their impressive website (RAINN.org) 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’m happy to provide this “update.”

I was really surprised to read your response and I was even more taken aback when I realized that everything you said was true.

I stayed with my now ex-boyfriend until we were a little over three years into our relationship. Sadly, nothing changed. Our relationship actually got worse.

The last straw for me was when he flat-out started verbally abusing me, calling me names and yelling at me – in front of my daughter.

I broke it off right then and there.

It took five months for him to move out, begging me to give him another chance. He never changed his behavior during that time, and was still withholding affection whenever he felt like I needed to be punished.

He tried to "propose" (with no ring), and even cried about our breakup, but when I said no to getting back together, he laughed in my face because he said he’d been lying when he said he was sorry.

Thankfully, after he moved out (which was well over a year ago), I have not heard from him since!

I just want to thank you immensely for helping me to see things clearly!

I am finally FREEEEE!!

– No Longer Underperforming

Dear No Longer: Your “update” is a gift! I’m so glad I didn’t have to come get you – that drive to Rhode Island is a long one.

Dear Amy: I was quite disgusted by your sarcastic tone in your response to “Frustrated in Texas,” when you wrote: “ It’s a shame that caring for your dogs and horses is preventing you from caring for an elderly human.”

Humans have choices. Animals don’t. They are helpless.

You owe this person an apology.

– Upset

Dear Upset: Many readers called me out for that line. I maintained that “Frustrated” was using her responsibilities with her animals as a reason not to assist her elderly mother-in-law, who was also helpless.

Regardless, I do apologize for the sarcastic tone.

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

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


 

 

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