Life Advice


Health & Spirit

It's a red flag if your boyfriend never admits fault

Carolyn Hax on

There are judgment calls, always, but -- forgetting plans? If one can't simultaneously be one's unfiltered self and form the words, "Oh no! I'm sorry. No excuse. Please forgive me" -- then that's not a self around whom I want to spend much time.

But, also always a red flag: Coming out of 16 years of "passion, intensity, gaslighting and insanity" with a "violent drug addict" and still greeting your own distrust with, "Am I oversensitive?"

Questioning your reality is the emotional signature of gaslighting. You know this. It's when you respond to something done to you that's objectively bad -- as in, something you'd never encourage anyone you care about to put up with -- by wondering if you're the one at fault.

Plus, the reasons you cite for his suiting you -- besides sanctuary, which I'll get to -- are ones of coincidence, not character. Interests, kid ages, "parallel life experiences." These are important for compatibility but they won't help you trust an untrustworthy person or like an unlikable one. Commonality and character count.

When you question your ability to judge character -- especially when your history gives you cause to -- then I urge you not to go it alone. Find a good therapist who can help you (re-)calibrate your boundaries and judgment.

That you find emotional relief in this man compared with your ex is a character point in his favor, and could mean one of us is overstating the importance of your boyfriend's defensiveness.

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But he could just be less awful, too.

So there's no overstating how important it is to hear and trust your own voice. Please do not commit further, to anyone, till you do.


Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group



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