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Thank You

March 30, 2011

DEAR READERS: Folks who have the Savage Love app get the Savage Love Letter of the Day (SLLOTD) delivered to their iPhones or Androids. This week, I'm running three recent SLLOTDs to give my print-only readers a taste of what they're missing. I'm also giving myself a bit of a break: I'm currently dashing around the country on a book tour for It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. (Order yourself a copy—or donate one to your old middle or high school—at www .itgetsbetter.org.) But before we get to the letters...

I want to take this opportunity to thank Savage Love readers for launching the It Gets Better Project.

My husband and I created the project in response to the suicides of several LGBT youth. The idea was to give bullied and despairing LGBT youth hope for their futures by encouraging LGBT adults to reach out to them via YouTube. (For the record: Not all LGBT youth are bullied or despairing.) The It Gets Better Project was first announced in this space. Savage Love readers jumped in to help spread the word about the project on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, and Savage Love readers created the very first wave of IGBP videos. Savage Love readers are responsible for making the It Gets Better Project the international phenomenon it is today and, more importantly, for helping to save the lives of countless LGBT kids.

Whether it's taking on a bigot like Rick Santorum, coming to the defense of Constance McMillen, or jumping in to help bullied LGBT teenagers, my readers and listeners are a force to be reckoned with. Thanks for all you do.

My fiancé is awesome. I'm very happy we are getting married. We are in our early 30s. But... he has tantrums. When he gets upset, he literally throws things, punches things (never me), and screams obscenities. What makes him upset? Losing his keys, being overcharged at the supermarket, missing the subway. These moments are humiliating for me. On top of that, I had an abusive father who hit me and, though my fiancé would never in a million years hit or abuse me, his tantrums remind me of those childhood experiences.

I have tentatively broached the subject of therapy, but he is not interested. I don't know what to do.

Frustrated Fiancée

He hasn't hit you... yet.

I'm not saying he'll definitely get around to hitting you, FF, but a man who goes apeshit when he misses the subway is likely to go apeshit on his wife sooner or later. Marriages are more stressful than commutes. And I'm sorry, but it's a disturbing sign that you're already tiptoeing around this guy ("I have tentatively broached the subject") and making excuses for him ("My fiancé would never in a million years hit or abuse me").

Emergency rooms, divorce courts, and graveyards are filled with women who once said, "My fiancé would never in a million years hit me."

The time for tentative broaching has passed, FF, and the time for confrontational confronting and ultimatums has arrived: He gets his ass into therapy and gets a grip on his anger issues, or the wedding is off. And this can't be about seeing a therapist once or twice to mollify you. He has to solve this problem before you pick out cake toppers. And if he won't get help, or if he can't solve this problem even with help, do not marry him.

I'm female, bi, mid-20s, into kink—bedroom-only BDSM stuff—and involved in the local kink scene in NYC. I'm not into public sex or group sex; that's just not appealing to me. One of my closest friends is having a birthday party. Most people do a bar crawl, but this friend is hosting a straight-up orgy. I don't want to be a no-show—it's her birthday!—but sitting around fully dressed, trying to make small talk with someone while a fisting scene is taking place two feet away? AWKWARD. I thought about going for the first half, while people are drinking, and leaving before it turns into an orgy. But what excuse could I give to bail?

Wallflower At The Orgy

How about the truth?

If you're mature enough to be a part of NYC's kink scene, you're mature enough to say this to your friend: "I love you, but orgies just aren't my thing. I'll be at your party—I wouldn't miss it!—but I'm going to quietly slip out before the first fist disappears into the first orifice."

If anyone should be able to hear that without taking offense, WATO, it's a member of an organized kink scene. All organized kinksters ask of each other is an open mind about kinks generally, thoughtfulness about consent and safety specifically, and clarity about boundaries absolutely. No one in a kink scene expects that all kinks—and group play is a kink—appeal to all kinksters equally.

So go to the party, wish your friend a happy birthday, then head for the door when you hear the snap of the first latex glove.

I am a 28-year-old woman living in a town with a big military base. About a year ago, I noticed this really torn-up-looking guy sitting by himself in a bar. It turned out his wife had just been deployed and was going to be gone for nine months. He said he didn't think he'd make it. We wound up having sex. I moved in a few days after that. The whole thing revolved around nobody asking questions. Over time, I fell in love with him, and I thought he fell in love with me. If I thought about the future, I told myself he'd leave his wife for me.

Yesterday, he woke up and said, "It's over. She's coming home today." I was crying and crying while he kept coming up with these unbelievable lines: We had a good thing, he'd miss my love, I should try to remember the magic. Then he told me to look away so he wouldn't have to watch me crying!

I know I was a fool, Dan, but who was the bigger jerk?

Sad Eyes

Seeing as you spent the last nine months attempting to be the author of someone else's misery—his wife's—only to wind up being the author of your own, SE, it's kind of hard to feel sorry for you. I suppose you deserve some credit for acknowledging that you're a jerk—you did, after all, ask me to determine which one of you is the bigger jerk—but I gotta say that your jerkiness is the kind that makes me want to break out my brand-new-asshole-carving knife.

But he's the bigger jerk.

My reasoning: He took up with another woman during his wife's absence, and he allowed this other woman to move into the home he shared with his wife. The other woman avoided conversations about the future because she was afraid of finding out that she didn't have one; he avoided conversations about the future because he was afraid the other woman would pack up her pussy and leave if he told her she didn't have one. And then he tossed the other woman out on her ass the very day his wife returned to the States, giving her very little time to make other living arrangements.

That makes him the bigger jerk, IMO. You both deserve new assholes—but he deserves a slightly bigger one.

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.

mail@savagelove.net

 

Comments (159) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
"That makes him the bigger jerk, IMO. You both deserve new assholes—but he deserves a slightly bigger one."

The good news is that she had the slightly bigger asshole for nine months!
Posted by khoz on March 29, 2011 at 7:37 PM · Report this
2
"That makes him the bigger jerk, IMO. You both deserve new assholes—but he deserves a slightly bigger one."

The good news is that she had the slightly bigger asshole for nine months!
Posted by khoz on March 29, 2011 at 7:38 PM · Report this
3
Dan, love the advice to Sad Eyes ... what did she expect? And even if he did leave his wife for her, what happens if she's away for any length of time? It sounds like he just wants a warm body there, and I feel sorry for his wife!
Posted by candz on March 29, 2011 at 7:46 PM · Report this
despicable me 4
It Gets Better rocks, Dan! Good luck on the book tour.

It totally sucks to be tech unsavvy and not everyone has an iPhone or Android.
Posted by despicable me on March 29, 2011 at 7:48 PM · Report this
5
FF - Dan is right for you to require help for your fiance. If he really is "amazing," he will work to help himself. In therapy, he will set goals for himself, and I suggest you set goals for yourself as well, like, "if my fiance does not embarass me or make me scared with his wild tantrums for, say, 12 straight months, I will then seriously consider marrying him.
Posted by nordica on March 29, 2011 at 7:51 PM · Report this
6
Dan, I really don't want to call bullshit on you. Your column has been provocative, provoking thoughts and making me question my self and assumptions. But, it's lately become too much marketing for the "it gets better" project (which should also be in quotes, but quotes after quotes - yeesh). I am not denigrating the project, nor am I calling for more poo-eaters. Instead, a mere plea: Take one step back and think, "Is my column becoming a college application essay for all the good things that I have done?" If it is, if you've felt a loss of edge, please be assured. We do not blame you. Who among us mere mortals could work week-in-and-week-out (in-out-in-out) without losing it / blowing a load? Three words (and a spare syllable): Sab Bat i Cal. We'll still love you when you get back, but you deserive some time off. (And not because you need to be gone and then forgotten. No, because we want you ready to go for 2012 to energize our bases, as it were.)
Posted by lazy prof on March 29, 2011 at 8:18 PM · Report this
7
Onoes, lazy prof, Dan is busy for very good reasons. We're all seeing the other side of the mountain, the tide is turning, and someone has to carry water.
Amazing things are afoot, Dan's fresh from a vacation, and the haters are just about to have tolerance shoved (yes) down their throats.

Rock on Mr. Savage.
Posted by Sifu http://www.sifumark.com on March 29, 2011 at 9:07 PM · Report this
8
I married a guy even though he threw temper tantrums that humiliated me. I finally left him but have been fighting for my sons ever since. Today my 12 year old son - whom I utterly adore - lost his temper over a homework issue, threw something and told me "fuck you". It was like I was looking at his father who has never apologized for terrorizing us, who never stopped to reconsider bringing bad, angry energy into our home.

Please don't marry that guy. Just don't. Abusers have an amazing, almost magical ability to make you feel sorry for them. It's uncanny. But you cannot fix this guy and if he doesn't see anything wrong with his behavior, nothing you can do - not bearing his children, not loving him completely, not forgiving him, not hiding his outbursts from your friends and family, not threatening to leave him - nothing will change him.

I still feel sorry for my ex-husband and I still wish that my love could have fixed him, but now I have to argue with him in court about why our children need and deserve therapy. It's been absolutely awful. Please don't let this happen to you.
Posted by hrchick on March 29, 2011 at 9:37 PM · Report this
9
I married a guy even though he threw temper tantrums that humiliated me. I finally left him but have been fighting for my sons ever since. Today my 12 year old son - whom I utterly adore - lost his temper over a homework issue, threw something and told me "fuck you". It was like I was looking at his father who has never apologized for terrorizing us, who never stopped to reconsider bringing bad, angry energy into our home.

Please don't marry that guy. Just don't. Abusers have an amazing, almost magical ability to make you feel sorry for them. It's uncanny. But you cannot fix this guy and if he doesn't see anything wrong with his behavior, nothing you can do - not bearing his children, not loving him completely, not forgiving him, not hiding his outbursts from your friends and family, not threatening to leave him - nothing will change him.

I still feel sorry for my ex-husband and I still wish that my love could have fixed him, but now I have to argue with him in court about why our children need and deserve therapy. It's been absolutely awful. Please don't let this happen to you.
Posted by hrchick on March 29, 2011 at 10:08 PM · Report this
10
@6 -- Get a life.
Posted by Amanda on March 29, 2011 at 10:29 PM · Report this
11
re: tempers I think a critical piece of information is missing. Has he ever harmed a person or animal, physically or verbally? Its one thing to lose your cool and throw your keys, another to take it out on a person. If he's done the latter then stay the hell away. Its only a matter of time. It sounds like he hasn't, but if he's punching things that's a pretty bad sign.
Posted by test on March 29, 2011 at 10:31 PM · Report this
12
Frustrated Fiancée needs to DTMA!!!

No ifs, ands or buts. DTMA!!! Run, do not walk. DTMA. Your LIFE may depend on it.

"Therapy" is not going to cure this. Years and years of therapy, maybe. But mental illness, which is what this is, can also get WORSE over time. Marrying him is signing your own death warrant.
Posted by notfromaroundhere on March 29, 2011 at 10:38 PM · Report this
Canuck 13
Aw, you're a sweetheart, Dan. You've provided an amazing platform for people to share ideas and discuss all the different topics on which you post. I think it's good to remember, too (@6), that SL, and Slog are free for all of us. We come here and enjoy it, no charge, and it's really cool to see people band together to change things. It's a unique sort of give and take that I've never seen anywhere else.

Hope your local book signing went well, and that your faithful Seattle Sloggers brought you some stale cake. Good luck for the rest of the week, too.
Posted by Canuck on March 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM · Report this
14
Frustrated Fiancee: I've been there. My father had a horrible, hair-trigger temper that I grew up in terror of, and while quite a few of my friendships and relationships have involved nasty tempers, none of them has ever ended well. I always end up cringing and flashing back to a bad place whenever someone I'm close to gets irrationally angry and it's not pleasant. He doesn't have to hit you to make your life painful, so if he doesn't seriously commit to change, you need to DTMA yesterday. It's not worth the misery.
Posted by lurky mclurkerson on March 29, 2011 at 10:52 PM · Report this
15
#6, if this column is evolving away from what you love, please don't assume you speak for all (or even many) of us. I love Dan's dirty wit (which you do a poor imitation of) but the entertainment value of the column makes it a fantastic vehicle for such a great cause that the call for more fisting jokes and less saving lives is a bit obscene.
Posted by Bobob on March 29, 2011 at 11:06 PM · Report this
16
I think that all the dire warnings about FF taking her life into her hands if she marries this guy are completely overblown. To be clear: there's a very obvious, very good reason that she should think twice about marrying him, and that's that the tantrums are humiliating and triggering. But the notion that this guy is going to morph into an abuser is just garbage pop psych. People with anger issues can have specific sort of triggers which don't generalize to people in their lives, and if he hasn't ever had a tantrum directed at her in the past, there is no particular reason to believe he is suddenly going to switch his aggressions to her.

People with anger issues deserve to be stigmatized to some extent--social stigma is a spur to dealing with the problem by consulting a professional. But they don't deserve to be labeled as abusers if they don't have any history of violence (emotional or physical) directed at people in their lives.
Posted by anon21 on March 29, 2011 at 11:19 PM · Report this
17
Frustrated Fiancée needs to Google "Cycle of Abuse"
Sweetheart, you are smack dab in the middle of it. Abusers don't change until it's a good idea for them, and it requires so much more than the fiancée asking nicely.
#6-Dear Abby is dead and gone, but Ann Landers still has a column that would be perfect for you.
Posted by PoopieHead on March 30, 2011 at 12:57 AM · Report this
18
First time commenter, long-time reader.

Abuse stories like that first letter scare me. Even if your sweetheart doesn't actually hit you, there are plenty of ways you (or any potential children) could be physically harmed by him--especially if he throws things when he has those outbursts! Anger issues are NOT something you can just quietly sweep under the rug and hope they go away. Even if he, himself, is trying to get over this, you do not move in with him until the tantrums have STOPPED. Period.

Even if he never attacks you directly (and that's a HUGE "if"), are the property damage, emotional harm, and psychological effects on your children really worth it? No. No, they're not.
Posted by L-cat on March 30, 2011 at 1:21 AM · Report this
19
@13

Well said, Canuck.
Posted by jenesasquatch on March 30, 2011 at 3:17 AM · Report this
20
@12 and 14: When did DTMFA lose the 'F'? Is this the slow progression to a G-rated column?
And @6, Dan's always been a shameless self promoter, but we love him anyway, for his caustic wit, hard work and (as this column shows) generosity.
Posted by melbzig on March 30, 2011 at 3:23 AM · Report this
Rach3l 21
@8/@9

1) Why do you need to argue about why your kids need therapy? Just take them. Kids going through a divorce are nearly always recommended to therapy anyway. I and my sister had to go to family therapy with mom when mine divorced. You can address the anger issues at the same time.

2) People are born with a personality. The anger your son exhibits is very unlikely to be purely learned behavior. It's also got a genetic component. Not that he doesn't need therapy; it sounds like he does. But consider that the angry outbursts may not just be something he learned from watching his dad. There are plenty of kids who watch their dads break shit and cuss out their moms who don't do the same things themselves (hi there), because they realize it's hurtful behavior and they don't externalize their own anger issues.

I'm not a therapist but maybe you could try teaching your son to externalize his anger in a more healthy way. Encourage him to run around the block if he gets frustrated with his homework. Or designate a punching pillow/bag that he hits in private. Or listening to really loud music on his headphones for a half hour.
Posted by Rach3l on March 30, 2011 at 5:17 AM · Report this
22
"You both deserve new assholes—but he deserves a slightly bigger one."

Why should gay kids get all the attention? How about we show a little love for all the jerks out there and start an "It gets biggger" campaign?
Posted by Eveningsun on March 30, 2011 at 5:35 AM · Report this
23
My ex-boyfriend was similar to FF's fiance. He never hit me, and I'm not entirely sure he would've (maybe he would have, if we had stayed together long enough, who's to say), but he got upset at VERY tiny things--things as little as buying something at one price and then later finding that it was cheaper elsewhere. "Goddamnit" was his favorite word. He was very obsessed with life going the precisely right way and when it didn't--boom. He would throw things, punch walls, say horrifically hurtful things (including blaming me for getting laid off from a job). I absolutely walked on eggshells around him. I would keep things from him to avoid his getting upset. He never hit me and I never felt the threat of such, but who knows where it could've gone?

Even if FF's fiance never hits her and never will, she should get out of this relationship, because that's a crappy way to live. When being routinely humiliated by your husband is the best case scenario, GTFO.
Posted by Jengii on March 30, 2011 at 6:02 AM · Report this
sissoucat 24
@21 She may not have enough money herself to pay for her children's therapy, thus the need to argue in court. Or she may not have a convenient enough schedule with the children to fit in therapy sessions.

Besides, being a victim of marital abuse destroys one's ability to take decisions, even if you know in your heart that they are needed and just - so #8-hrchick may still need his validation, or the judge's validation, to feel able to get the children into therapy.
Posted by sissoucat on March 30, 2011 at 6:14 AM · Report this
25
I agree with #6. For a while Savage Love and the podcast were the "Sex at Dawn" weekly show and now it's all "It Gets Better" all the time.

It's excessive and it gets annoying. I think that more emphasis needs to be placed on the "advice column" parts of the column / podcast / blog. I'm not saying that all promos or opinions need to be removed, but I think that 50% of what is currently offered would be a better amount.
Posted by Annee on March 30, 2011 at 6:18 AM · Report this
26
"We wound up having sex. I moved in a few days after that." Did I just read that right? Did you just say that you moved in with a guy, a guy who's wife was deployed over seas and would be coming back in nine months, a few days after you had sex with him for the first time?

Either that means that you are a poor young lady who doesn't make enough money to pay your own rent so you routinely move in with what ever man you happen to be fucking at the time, or you were deluded enough to believe you had a future with this man after a couple days of fucking him while his wife was on deployment.
Posted by Voldemort13 on March 30, 2011 at 6:23 AM · Report this
27
"We wound up having sex. I moved in a few days after that." Did I just read that right? Did you just say that you moved in with a guy, a guy who's wife was deployed over seas and would be coming back in nine months, a few days after you had sex with him for the first time?

Either that means that you are a poor young lady who doesn't make enough money to pay your own rent so you routinely move in with what ever man you happen to be fucking at the time, or you were deluded enough to believe you had a future with this man after a couple days of fucking him while his wife was on deployment.
Posted by Voldemort13 on March 30, 2011 at 6:27 AM · Report this
28
Right on, #27.
Posted by riley on March 30, 2011 at 6:39 AM · Report this
lawdog 29
@ It Gets Better haters above,

Dan Savage can say anything he damn well pleases.

The well-being of young men and women is more important than you being entertained. (For free, every day,without fail)

Thanks Dan, we love you!
Posted by lawdog on March 30, 2011 at 6:45 AM · Report this
30
Sorry about the double post, I didn't know if it had gone through.
Posted by Voldemort13 on March 30, 2011 at 6:54 AM · Report this
sissoucat 31
@8 : I feel for you. My eldest son is also 12 and he's had periods of angry or violent behavior since his pervert father's departure 3 years ago. I think he had none before, because he was too afraid of how his father would react.

The father wasn't physically violent though he had tantrums, and he was very controlling. Any little mistake, like a child starting to speak to me while he was already speaking, and me acknowledging the demand of the child, made him furious.

#21 gives good advice about what to do. I wouldn't do the loud music though, hearing loss is no fun. The following is how I'm dealing :

My son has yelled at me, he's insulted me, he's slammed doors, he's hurt his siblings in anger. It's getting better though, less episodes, less violence. He's had therapy for 1 year, and the therapist told me that "better be angry than depressive & suicidal".

So I try to acklowledge his anger as a normal feeling under the circumstance, not as an earth-shattering event - though it felt like it the first times - but I ask him to control his behaviour : don't hurt anyone, don't destroy anything, don't insult anyone. The message is "it's ok to feel angry, it's not ok to disrespect us or the house". I consider it as a work in progress : he's seen bad things, he hurts inside, but he has to learn how to express his anger in a way that doesen't hurt us.

Of course I isolate him while he's mad and he's grounded for a week when he comes back to his senses, and he has to make amends to the injured or insulted party. He accepts it quite well. And whenever I feel that the pressure is building up, I let him space & time to quiet down, or I ask him to run around the house - and I always tell him who proud I am when he succeeds in nixing a coming outburst.
More...
Posted by sissoucat on March 30, 2011 at 7:06 AM · Report this
32
@21 - When there is joint custody, both parents are supposed to be involved in making decisions in regards to health care and education. The kids may be covered under his health insurance, too.
Posted by Barbara on March 30, 2011 at 7:11 AM · Report this
33
I can throw temper tantrums over the most petty things. I know it is childish and feel badly afterward, but in the moment I can't seem to help it. However, I will NEVER hit or abuse my wife. My last physical confrontation with another human was before I was a teenager, I'm 40 now. Temper tantrums and physical violence do not necessarily go hand in hand. Don't just DTMFA?
Posted by 35yearoldhappyguy on March 30, 2011 at 7:13 AM · Report this
sissoucat 34
Frustrated Fiancée should leave now.

His behaviour brings back memory of your childhood abuse ? That's a redflag. It's most of your mind and your body alerting you to the fact that you're gonna get hit soon. It means : run.

Forget the wedding, it's not love he feels for you. He's already abusing you. Love doesn't frighten. Love doesn't humiliate. Love doesn't hurt inside.

And all your love for him will not make him change one bit. He'll hit harder, that's all.

Get info about redflags at
http://drirene.com/redflag.htm
This site will show you how your life with him will be, in the best case - the case where he doesn't chrisbrown you.
Posted by sissoucat on March 30, 2011 at 7:23 AM · Report this
35
I'm married to a former tantrumer and Dan is absolutely right about his advice. You need to address this, directly, repeatedly, until something changes, BEFORE you get married. My then bf would throw fits over ridiculous things; he had zero ability to control and manage frustration. His temper went from 0-60, instantly.

While he never hit me or made me feel physically threatened it any way, his behavior disturbed and embarassed me. And I did worry that over time it might escalate. Before issuing a "therapy or else" ultimatum, I talked to him several times about how his tantrums affected me, made me feel, etc. No beating around the bush, no tenative suggestions. The only trick is that I didn't phrase it as an attack on him - you do blah blah blah; you need to blah blah blah, you are such a blah blah blah. I simply told him how I felt, how I was affected and made the conversation about me.

It terrorized him that he made me feel unsafe. It embarassed him when he found out he embarassed me. He was ashamed of himself. And slowly he began working it out on his own.

He still not the most mellow guy when he's angry, but it's been years since he's acted like such an ass that I've felt embarassed or freaked out by him. When he does overreact, he recognizes the behavior almost immediately and simmers down. Then apologizes directly.

Your fiancee might not be able to work it out on his own to that level, but he better start learning to work it out somehow. Or seriously, the negative quality will eventually outweigh every positive quality he brings to the table.
Posted by Legiswriter on March 30, 2011 at 7:41 AM · Report this
Charm 36
@6 - Speak for yourself. I do not have a problem with Dan promoting the hell out of It Gets Better. Promote it for all it's worth. I have friends who have videos, and if it saves my kid or one of her friends one day, it's worth it.

Go read something from the archives to tide you over.
Posted by Charm on March 30, 2011 at 7:53 AM · Report this
37
That last letter is a wind-up. It sounds like the lyrics for a Country & Western song. Dude crying at the end of the bar and some other sap of a victim shows up to hear his woes and then they get together and they live in silence until the wounded sap gets thrown out on her ear. If this letter isn't crimmed from a C&W song, then I'm going to get to writing it today! Also, booze is featured so the whole thing follows the C&W "formula." Someone is a genius, indeed. On a critical note, they missed a trick by not including a dog which they'd bought together and now things are "complicated" because she has to leave and wants to take the dog with her but he wants to keep it. Otherwise, it's perfect. I'm wondering was anyone actually awake during that 9 months? AND.... 9 months?! There SHOULD have, at least, been a baby involved - from that drunken night to the day that she's asked to leave! Come on!
If the letter is "real" then this woman learned a valuable lesson. This guy, obviously had it planned before his wife left and was just looking for a sucker.
Posted by Frederica Bimble on March 30, 2011 at 8:07 AM · Report this
38
To FF:

I too am partnered with a former tantrum-thrower, and it did escalate to violence. The proper diagnosis of Bipolar disorder, and treatment with both medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has saved both of our lives.

If he refuses therapy, or if therapy does not produce concrete changes, then absolutely leave. But do not be tentative, do not be flexible about therapy, and do not marry him until he has demonstrated that he will share a safe life with you.

To everyone urging her to DTMFA:

This is not what she looking for. She plans to marry this man. She is in love, and is planning her life with him in it.... DTMFAing would require a massive change in her self-concept, and she is not prepared to do that.

I agree that an ultimatum is necessary, and he absolutely has to work on this, but he does not sound beyond help. My heart goes out to her, and I hope she never, ever has to make the decisions she'll have to make if he does become violent.
Posted by I, anonymous on March 30, 2011 at 8:15 AM · Report this
39
What is the relative number of email readers of Savage Love compared to print readers of Savage Love? I'm just curious which has the majority, and how big a majority that is.
Posted by knitpicker on March 30, 2011 at 8:33 AM · Report this
SiSiSodaPop in Vegas 40
It is a song - from the 70s - called "Sad Eyes" Look up the lyrics - they're all in her letter. Dan - I LOVE YOU - but, didn't you catch that?
Posted by SiSiSodaPop in Vegas on March 30, 2011 at 8:52 AM · Report this
41
Letter #1: Fake. Fake fake fake.

Letter #3: Lame, Landersesque choice.

DS's eye is off the ball.

Er, balls.
Posted by Yojimbo on March 30, 2011 at 9:01 AM · Report this
42
Depending on the guy's behaviour around the temper tantrums, it sounds like he is on the autistic spectrum. She needs to look up the symptoms and see if he matches those found on The National Autistic Society (in the UK) or another office body in the US. If he does match the criteria then, unfortunately, she will either have to "learn to live with" his behaviour or she can move on. Therapy helps in children diagnosed as autistic spectrum but for adults therapy can only touch slightly. She needs to find out and really understand that there is no cure for it and no amount of therapy will change that. I am on the autistic spectrum myself and YEARS of meditation has helped tremendously but I live a solitary life and I have to be careful around people. I also worked for 6 years with moderate to severe autistic young adults so that is why I am suggesting that this guy might be on the spectrum and not know it. There is help out there but this woman needs to be realistic on what can happen as far as her relationship goes.
Posted by Frederica Bimble on March 30, 2011 at 9:02 AM · Report this
43
That should be "official" and not "office."
Posted by Frederica Bimble on March 30, 2011 at 9:03 AM · Report this
scary tyler moore 44
@13, Canuck, there was delicious chocolate cake at the pre-event reception, and i hope dan took some home to leave out for two or three days. and the reading was great! Liz Jones interviewed Dan and Terry, and three contributors read their essays. lots of love, tears and hope.
Posted by scary tyler moore http://pushymcshove.blogspot.com/ on March 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM · Report this
45
April Fools, people.

Looks like it's over, you knew I couldn't stay
She's comin' home today
We had a good thing, I'll miss your sweet love
Why must you look at me that way
It's over

Sad eyes, turn the other way
I don't wanna see you cry
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'

Try to remember the magic that we shared
In time your broken heart will mend
I never used you, you knew I really cared
I hate to see it have to end
But it's over

Sad eyes, turn the other way
I don't wanna see you cry
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'

Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'
Sad eyes, turn the other way (turn the other way)
I don't wanna see you cry (cry, cry, cry)
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day (he-e-e-ey)
When we would have to say 'goodbye'
Sad eyes

Good one, Dan!
Posted by monkeywithcarkeys on March 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM · Report this
46
Oops, italicized the kudo. Here:

Good one, Dan!
Posted by monkeywithcarkeys on March 30, 2011 at 9:09 AM · Report this
47
Damn it!
Posted by monkeywithcarkeys on March 30, 2011 at 9:11 AM · Report this
48
I was wondering how old Sad Eyes was, thinking if maybe she was 20 or so, I would cut her a bit of a break. But I went up and re-read. Man, she is almost 30. Old enough to know better. I have a touch of sympathy though, having had the experience of falling in love with someone when I didn't want to, but I will DEFINITELY agree with Dan....HE is a major douchenozzle. He invited another chick to MOVE IN knowing full well he was just going to dump her ass when his wife got back? Man, that just seems really low. I can understand his wanting some poon while she was gone (I really feel so empathetic for military folks, it has gotta be soooo lonely on both ends!) and don't even fault him too much for that....but a live-in lover? Wow...hasn't this guy seen Fatal Attraction?!?!?!
Posted by badgirl on March 30, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
49
I'm kind of doubting the veracity of "Sad Eyes" myself. He threw her out the same day his wife was returning from overseas? Seems like the dude should have needed a little more lead time to cover his tracks after a 9-month-long stint of living with this woman.
Posted by Rowing Uses on March 30, 2011 at 9:14 AM · Report this
50
Lol! Is it an April fools? I wonder! I am so suprememly gullible, I always fall for them *grin*. But, the reason country music is so popular, is sometimes it rings so true ;)
Posted by badgirl on March 30, 2011 at 9:15 AM · Report this
51
Scroll up. Full lyrics. Dan's tweaking our collective nipples. And I thought I had an italic virus. Crazy, crazy world.
Posted by monkeywithcarkeys on March 30, 2011 at 9:18 AM · Report this
52
In the back of my mind, I knew it was that song, "Sad Eyes" but I just didn't let it in and went for the possibility of a made up country tune. LOL that the letter got through!
Posted by Frederica Bimble on March 30, 2011 at 9:20 AM · Report this
53
Now it's in my head. Fucking earworm. And Ms. B, pretty sure Dan done did it on purpose.
Posted by monkeywithcarkeys on March 30, 2011 at 9:23 AM · Report this
54
I think Sad Eyes is the bigger douche. The guy TOLD her he was married. He never told her he would stay with her. Getting tossed out when the wife comes home is the natural conclusion, and even if you deluded yourself into thinking it wasn't the natural conclusion, it's only because you expect the guy to tell his wife, when she comes back from 9 months overseas, that SHE'S out on her ass.

So I totally disagree with Dan here. The girl who expected the guy to toss his wife out of their house is the bigger jerk.
Posted by biggie on March 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM · Report this
RandyUSA 55
What a great suggestion! I have ordered a copy of It Gets Better and plan to donate it to my old middle school in Wisconsin. I already called the public library in Missoula, MT, where I live, to see if they were planning to carry it, and they are! Thanks for all the good work, and making it easier for all of us to help it get better.
Posted by RandyUSA on March 30, 2011 at 10:03 AM · Report this
56
Looks like it's over, you knew I couldn't stay
She's comin' home today
We had a good thing, I'll miss your sweet love
Why must you look at me that way
It's over
Sad eyes, turn the other way
I don't wanna see you cry
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'
Try to remember the magic that we shared
In time your broken heart will mend
I never used you, you knew I really cared
I hate to see it have to end
But it's over
Sad eyes, turn the other way
I don't wanna see you cry
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'

[Instrumental Interlude]

Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day
When we would have to say 'goodbye'
Sad eyes, turn the other way (turn the other way)
I don't wanna see you cry (cry, cry, cry)
Sad eyes, you knew there'd come a day (he-e-e-ey)
When we would have to say 'goodbye'
Sad eyes
Posted by huskernubian70 on March 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM · Report this
57
About your advice to Sad Eyes, maybe you should have skipped the words and given her a link to this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kzeCjluv…
Posted by Mister G on March 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Scrufff 58
Dan maybe i missed it, but what is your book signing tour's itinerary? In particular will you be visiting S. Cal? And if so, when and where?
Posted by Scrufff on March 30, 2011 at 11:03 AM · Report this
59
@FF - Honey, walk - don't run - away from this guy now. Drama, emotional dysregulation and the threat of violence (throwing keys, etc.) are all abuse. BTDT. It never ends, until you're a broken down lump of blah or you leave. The entire MO of abusers is to wear you out/down. Sleep deprivation, isolation (I'm embarrassed to be around people/in public!!!WTF!!!), consuming 100% of your time and attention (no space for your own interests, etc), etc. are all various methods which are more or less designed to break you down. I'm not saying their conscious plans - gaslighting - but either way, this is how these behaviors work on you.

I've been through this (with a woman) and although she didn't really 'hurt' me physically, I have to tell you, I was sooo shocked when she did hit me, that I didn't really recognize it for what it was: abuse. But it had the desired affect on me...I flinched after that, and I was even more subdued in later discussions and avoided topics that might 'set things off'...because I wanted peace.

A divorce lawyer friend of mine pointed out, that 9/10 times, the crazier spouse wins (assuming the money doesn't all run out first, and there is anything to "win" left), because they're willing to go the extra mile, oblivious to what effect they're having on themselves, their soon-to-be-ex and any offspring.

I forget sometimes what that was like...I remember deliberately 'fixing' a few 'snapshots' in my mind - now I can't pull up the snapshot, but I can pull up the memory of trying to take one - because I did care very deeply for her and because we all sanitize things - sentimental hygiene. Do not do that, or at least, don't do it until you are free and clear of him - disentangled in every way. Someone up-comments noted that you're in the middle of it - believe me, as a fellow traveller - you will not believe just how twisted it was when you're six months clear of it.

Do not believe that 'forcing' him to seek out therapy will work - even if he consents to going, it will do no good at all unless he wants to be there - in other words, it will do no good if he's doing it under duress. Even if he turns on the sweet and charming and 'volunteers' to go into therapy when you call off the wedding, it's the same thing: under duress.

Please spare yourself the additional heartache, and do not stop using BC so long as you are with him. He might be a great guy, and have a ton of redeeming values, and very good reasons (growing up in an abusive environment being #1) for "being" that way, but those are not excuses and marriage is not a suicide pact. Good luck!

@Sad Eyes - karma's a bitch, ain't it?
More...
Posted by knkycva on March 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
60
In addition to Dan's excellent advice to Frustrated Fiancee not to marry the guy, I'd like to suggest that she talk to a social worker at a women's shelter, show her the letter that she wrote Dan, and ask for her opinion as to whether that man is a wife beater in the making. It might mean more coming from her. There will likely be more detail, more insight, more weight. In particular, the question is under what circumstances therapy might help or whether it could help at all. I'm inclined to say not to bother; the jerk is a lost cause, but a social worker's opinion is worth more.
Posted by Crinoline on March 30, 2011 at 11:28 AM · Report this
Canuck 61
Oh scary tyler moore, I am so jealous! I'm glad you had a great evening out...plus cake! Dan and Terry deserve all the accolades they are getting, this will be a legacy.
Posted by Canuck on March 30, 2011 at 11:29 AM · Report this
62
Doh...Sad Eyes Oh well...fooled me!
Posted by knkycva on March 30, 2011 at 11:32 AM · Report this
63
Emergency rooms, divorce courts, and graveyards are filled with women who once said, "My fiancé would never in a million years hit me."

I was one of them, and every time I look in the mirror I am reminded of being my ex's punching bag. A twice broken nose, permant broken blood vessels and chipped teeth are what I see everytime I look in the mirror. Yes I left him, yes that's when it got worse, yes he went to prison for it and yes I fucking helped put him away. But his prison time is a small drop in the bucket compared to the ten years of nightmares and trust issues I still deal with. If you are in an abusive relationship FUCKING GET OUT! Run and never look back.
Posted by pistolkitten on March 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM · Report this
64
To those who think FF shouldn't DTMFA because temper tantrums are not necessarily a prelude to physical abuse ...

Okay, you have a point, but not a relevant one for this situation. You're right that he may never lay a hand on her. But even if he's not a future batterer, even if his behavior never gets any worse, I don't think FF can expect to have a good marriage with him. She's already unhappy and will continue to be so unless he changes. Maybe another woman might be okay with a non-abusive tantrum-thrower, but FF clearly is not. This couple is not a match.

To have a good relationship with a tantrum-thrower, their partner should feel safe and assertive enough to say "knock it off," or they should be the kind of rare person who's unfazed by tantrums. FF obviously doesn't fit either of those descriptions. His tantrums give her flashbacks and make her feel humiliated - cowed. She says she's only "tentatively" addressed the problem, which indicates she doesn't feel safe enough (emotionally, if not physically) with her fiance to express how nervewracking and embarrassing his outbursts are for her.

Whether it's her history of being abused or just her personality, she's not a person who can be comfortable and happy in a relationship with this man. That's not her fault. There's nothing wrong with her, so the onus to change (her mindset, her feelings about his behavior) should not be on her. I'm assuming he knows about her history, but even if he doesn't, she's told him his tantrums disturb her. That should be enough motivation to try to change. If he's unwilling to try for the sake of his future wife's peace of mind, then he's a jerk who likes having the power over women (hello, emotional abuser). If he tries to change and can't, then he's not a jerk, but he's still not a good partner for her.
More...
Posted by Skipper Jo on March 30, 2011 at 11:47 AM · Report this
65
Regarding Frustrated Fiance:

1) Being embarrassed/humiliated by your lover's behavior is, by itself, a legitimate reason not to marry that person. If he won't change, she has grounds to dump him based on current conduct alone, regardless of potential future conduct.

2) There is nothing in her offered facts to suggest that she is currently a "victim" or an "abuser" (@8). She is "humiliated" by his tantrums. Humiliation can be victimization (like if he were publicly verbally debasing her), but it is not in this case. Here, it's just very embarrassing; as in "I am not comfortable being associated with a person who has so little self control." Treating women like FF as victims is an insult to actual victims and also infantilizes women in general.

3) The fact that her fiance's non-hitting conduct reminds FF of her dad's abusive behavior is NOT a red flag that her fiance will be abusive in the future (@34) - it is simply one of many examples of how past trauma can make people over-sensitive to things which may not be actual threats.

4) "a man who goes apeshit when he misses the subway is likely to go apeshit on his wife sooner or later." (@Dan S.) It's probably true that guys who have less self control are more likely to hit their wives than those with more self control, but it's not clear what the odds are. Some guys are actually so sick that they are fully in control of their actions when they hit their wives. Also, there are plenty of guys out there who have physical manifestations of anger but who do not hit loved ones. I am one of these guys (I think I got it from my mom- she used to throw plates against the wall when she got frustrated). I think it's a character flaw, but I'm still a better dad and husband than plenty of guys out there who never blow a gasket. And speculating that a guy who goes a little overboard when he gets pissed off might be autistic (@42)? Wow. Then autism must be much more prevalent among poor men and men from Italian descent.
More...
Posted by kungfujew on March 30, 2011 at 11:54 AM · Report this
66
Just for a different perspective, my father had temper tantrums just like frustrated fiance described. He was NOT an abuser and did eventually learn to control his temper, and I love him dearly, so don't assume that this guy is going to become abusive.

But I also am still dealing with anxiety issues stemming from getting yelled at/witnessing property destruction after fairly minor provocations when I was a child.

I really wish my mom had known about my dad's temper and forced him to deal with it BEFORE they got married and I was born.
Posted by amerlinh on March 30, 2011 at 11:55 AM · Report this
67
I kind of want Wallflower at the Orgy to go just so she could report back to us on what sort of small talk, exactly, she ended up making while the fisting was going on. "How do you know the host"...? "Have you tried the salmon"...? "Wow, that's one big fist"...?
jill
http://inbedwithmarriedwomen.blogspot.co…
Posted by inbed http://inbedwithmarriedwomen.blogspot.com on March 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM · Report this
68
@ 59:

"Drama, emotional dysregulation and the threat of violence (throwing keys, etc.) are all abuse."

Throwing keys is not a threat of violence, and "drama" is not abuse. Abuse is when you get hit, are threatened with being hit, or are told verbally that you are bad and or/not deserving of love. Defining abuse in a very broad way does not facilitate sensitivity to abuse- it just waters it down.





Posted by kungfujew on March 30, 2011 at 12:15 PM · Report this
69
Both my Dad and Grandpa were men like the first letter writer describes. They'd get mad, break things, curse, but they never hit you...until they hit you. I was taught to humor them in their anger, and consequently that this was normal adult male behavior, but as an adult man now myself, I know it's not normal. It's the privileged child's response to being told "No," only the "privileged child" in this case is a grown man who can't understand why he can't have his way and why all the world and his whole entire family won't cater to his whims and make his life easier.
Posted by idfriendly on March 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM · Report this
70
Dan, I have an obvious problem with an obvious solution. But I can't get everything I want with it! Can I continue not to make a decision instead of getting my shit together?
Posted by Caralain on March 30, 2011 at 1:17 PM · Report this
71
@42

No, he doesn't. He sounds like an ass with serious anger issues. It's possible he's autistic, sure, but the letter doesn't really offer anything to suggest that. Tantrums are not only associated with autism.

The problem with this dude is not that he's guaranteed to start hitting her one day--that's the sort of thing that can never be clear. The problem is that this guy has a serious problem and has refused to get therapy. Even if his behavior doesn't fit your definition of abuse, like @68, the relationship is dysfunctional and probably won't improve. If the guy's too much of an ass to get some help, DTMFA.
Posted by chicago girl on March 30, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
72
I dunno, I've had a few successful relationships and have been with my wife for over ten years and the only incidents of abuse in my relationships have been women hitting me.

And yet I often rage angrily at terrible drivers, terrible politicians and video games that are truly frustrating. I find it much more therapeutic to vent such anger though loud swearing than to try to can it up and let the pressure build.

I think there is a real genetic predisposition to anger in men because women like men who stand up for themselves and fight other men for dominance. But now it is a sickness to be treated? I dunno. A gentleman is not someone who is never angry, he is someone who channels his anger appropriately, and the occasional 'tantrum' can fit that description.
Posted by drjones on March 30, 2011 at 2:01 PM · Report this
73
@68: it is abuse. There is more to abuse than just physical violence directed against yourself.

I was raised with the idea that if he didn't hit you, it wasn't abuse. I got stuck in several consecutive, and one particularly bad, emotionally abusive relationships. Verbal and emotional abuse are still abusive. Things like key-throwing can play a large role in it.

The idea that he has to hit her for it to count as abuse is pernicious and really hurts people like me, who couldn't see that behavior for what it was until it had been going on for a long time.
Posted by gloomndoom on March 30, 2011 at 2:07 PM · Report this
74
Thank you #35 for offering up the option of talking about how the husband's actions make her feel. At least that's a start before you "run and DTMFA" as so many folks are quick to suggest.

My old man is a loving husband/father, though growing up, his tantrums were pretty obnoxious (like white-knuckled/ vein-throbbing-in-his-neck angry). He never did lay a hand on anyone in the family. My mother finally told him that he needed to go to some anger management classes. He finally did, took them seriously, wrote down the things that set him off and slowly chipped away at his anger issues. He's a helluva lot mellower.

He also hated being angry. And unless one is a sick fuck who ENJOYS getting pissed and making people feel uncomfortable, people don't particularly enjoy getting angry. right?!
Posted by I'm a genius!Voice of a generation! on March 30, 2011 at 2:25 PM · Report this
75
Throwing keys is not a threat of violence,

Horsehockey. Throwing anything is an outburst of anger is a violent response, and is no less a threat of violence (attention getting) than punching a wall. It's a very deliberate way of saying "I'm so angry I could hit you or throw something at you."

and "drama" is not abuse.

Constant drama and histrionic behavior - emotional dysregulation - is most certainly abuse. It is a way of manipulating and controlling behavior in a partner by threatening out-of-bounds behavior in response to minimal stimuli of any sort that is "unacceptable".

What else is the object of this behavior? Why else is he throwing keys or "tantrums" about minor issues?

I'm not talking about indicting the guy on criminal charges. I'm talking about this gal getting the heck away from this person. Take your legalistic hip-contrarianism and go visit a Save the Males rally.
Posted by knkycva on March 30, 2011 at 2:30 PM · Report this
76
"FF - Dan is right for you to require help for your fiance. If he really is "amazing," he will work to help himself. In therapy, he will set goals for himself, and I suggest you set goals for yourself as well, like, "if my fiance does not embarass me or make me scared with his wild tantrums for, say, 12 straight months, I will then seriously consider marrying him."

I think that is about the lowest standard I can imagine for a happy marriage.
Posted by tammy fay bakker on March 30, 2011 at 2:38 PM · Report this
77
@drjones -

While I agree with this...

I think there is a real genetic predisposition to anger in men

...this makes no sense to me at all:

because women like men who stand up for themselves and fight other men for dominance.

I think the difference is called "testosterone" and yes, there is much more of it in men than women, particularly younger men, where violence tends to predominate.

But now it is a sickness to be treated?

We're talking about abusive behavior not anger in general. Anger is a completely normal and healthy emotion.

A gentleman is not someone who is never angry, he is someone who channels his anger appropriately,

That's absolutely correct. I'd prefer the word "manages", but whatever. And tantrums are not an appropriate expression, at least not after about age five. Grow up.
Posted by knkycva on March 30, 2011 at 2:42 PM · Report this
78
@42 stop making excuses! Autistic people can learn not to behave like scary assholes just as they can learn to not shit in public, which is essentially what tantrum throwing is. Yes Autistic people have limitations but I'm amazed how many self dx'd people are online who just happen to more accurately be a bunch of selfish anti social assholes. Being autistic might be why one does something; it has precisely zero to do with stopping violent tantrumming. Anyone socially adept enough to score a fiancee should be also able to stop violent tantrums. My own son is autistic and he knows damned good and well not to behave like that. Autistic doesn't = stupid asshole. I really wish supposedly autistic people would stop spreading that myth. If someone is a stupid asshole it's because they refuse to be otherwise, whether or not they're autistic.

Letter 3... He's a jerk but only to his wife. He never said he wanted a serious relationship. She was in one relationship in her head and he was in quite another. He wasn't a jerk to her at all. This is what happens when you have sex with a married man while his wife is away. He doesn't suddenly turn into an upright ethical fellow. If you want a man to treat you well, the married man shop, particularly the drunk married man shop, is not where to go looking.
Posted by wendykh on March 30, 2011 at 2:48 PM · Report this
79
FF, take an unannounced vacation, go somewhere you've never even dreamed of going (a great vacation spot or a run down motel in East Bunfuque, it doesn't matter,) and once you're there, call the fiance and tell him you're ending it.

Under normal circumstances I'd never say you should dump someone by phone, but for this I will. Let him have his temper tantrum when you're not within reach.
Posted by Marley on March 30, 2011 at 2:48 PM · Report this
80
Oh and for the record I only read Dan here. I don't read his blog and I don't listen to the podcast. I don't need that much Dan (or anyone) in my life. So I don't really care if he posts his letters of the day.
Posted by wendykh on March 30, 2011 at 2:51 PM · Report this
81
I'm trying to figure out how a fiance who won't even consider counselling when he's been told his partner has an issue, throws massive violent tantrums (not just swearing and yelling to vent and blow off steam but throwing objects and breaking shit) falls under "amazing." FF needs to get her ass into personal therapy because she's marrying Daddy Lite if she realizes it or not. Maybe he won't ever hit her, but living to where you're in tears hoping the subway is just a wee bit late because he might break his hand hitting the bricks is not a good way to live.
Posted by wendykh on March 30, 2011 at 3:05 PM · Report this
82
To FF: i used to get very angry also, though i never hit anyone. then one day i was diagnosed with ADD and started taking medication for it.. the next time a situation came up which would normally make me angry i could feel it building in me then it was like someone threw water on the fire. That was the last time (and it was about 8 years ago) when i was mad. I'm not a doctor and there's no way I'm going to say that's his problem, but it's worth looking into. Look into ADHD/ADD and see if anything else fits.ADHD/ADD is a spectrum of symptoms that only a doctor can figure out. Despite the bad situation of parents dosing their kids when they don't have a problem, ADHD/ADD exists and proper medcation can change your life. BTW- I passed this on to my daughter and she's two different kids when she goes a day or two without. She takes her medication willingly because she's also recognized that it helps her. .
Posted by meds could help on March 30, 2011 at 3:17 PM · Report this
83
@68:

Oh, puh-lease. Get educated.
Posted by UtterEast on March 30, 2011 at 3:18 PM · Report this
84
@ sad eyes the 2 of you were beyond wrong.. but like you he should face the consequences.. I don't know but where I live all tenants including livin pussy on a temp basis has th right to a 30 day notice.. even if you're not paying rent\bills check what the law is where your at and sue his ass and make sure you do it while his wife is here..

I believe in this case his wife has a right to know..because he took you to their home\bed used their sed on a daily basis..

For you or any that choses to mess around w\ a married should know your place..and stay in that place.. and don't give it up for nothing get something out of it.. no ands if or bu
Posted by brutalpatti on March 30, 2011 at 3:52 PM · Report this
85
Letter #1, DTMFA. I realized that my relationship was doomed when he got so mad on an airplane that the stewardess had to come threaten him with an air marshal. And no, he never hit me. He never hit anyone that I know of. But he was (and is) dangerously angry.
Posted by riley on March 30, 2011 at 4:03 PM · Report this
86
@75 (referring to me @68 referring to you @59):

[me @68] "Throwing keys is not a threat of violence"

[you]"Horsehockey. Throwing anything i[n] an outburst of anger is a violent response"

We agree that it is a violent act. Where we disagree is the extent to which a minor act of violence should be cause for concern in the context of a long-term intimate relationship in which the key-thrower has never hit the other partner. in other words, not all acts of violence constitute threats of violence to others. (Side note- if you read my post @65, you will see that I think she has grounds to dump him even if he is not a threat of future violence against her.)

[you]"and is no less a threat of violence (attention getting) than punching a wall. It's a very deliberate way of saying 'I'm so angry I could hit you or throw something at you.'"

What do you base this on? We agree that violent acts other than actual hitting CAN be implied threats of actual hitting, but this is certainly not always the case, as is evidenced by my personal anecdotal experience (both as an occasional violent actor who has does not hit loved ones and as a witness of violent acts by loved ones who did not hit me) and by the context of this woman's relationship with her fiance. Also, there is rarely anything "deliberate" about such acts- which is, admittedly, part of why they should be discouraged.

[me @68] "and 'drama' is not abuse."

[you]"Constant drama and histrionic behavior - emotional dysregulation - is most certainly abuse."

Nice try. Your post @59 did not include the word "constant" before the word "drama", and nothing in FFs post leads to the conclusion that her fiance's drama is "constant." However, we agree that "constant drama" is a form of abuse.

"What else is the object of this behavior? Why else is he throwing keys or "tantrums" about minor issues?"

Sometimes, the object is sometimes to vent. Sometimes, there is no object. Do I think it's the best way to deal with frustration? Nope. I think it's lame that he is acting like this and I am embarrassed to say that I sometimes do things like that, too. I just don't think it's always a red flag to dump someone. Some people, like my mom (as referenced @65), have acted out like this while also being great spouses and parents.

"I'm not talking about indicting the guy on criminal charges. I'm talking about this gal getting the heck away from this person."

Again, if you read my post @65, you'd see that you and I agree on this, although for slightly different reasons.

"Take your legalistic hip-contrarianism ... "

OK, I'll give you "legalistic"; which I consider to be a compliment in the context of a debate. I'm not so sure about "contrarian", since I'm agreeing with your basic premise that this marriage may not be a good idea. And as for "hip"; I don't think it's very hip for me to say that people who throw tantrums aren't necessarily abusive partners/parents. I think it's actually more hip to take your position here.

"go visit a Save the Males rally."

OK, but only if it's taking place right next to a Dykes on Bikes rally. I like to have a little eye candy when I'm protesting.
More...
Posted by kungfujew on March 30, 2011 at 4:04 PM · Report this
87
****@ sad eyes the 2 of you were beyond wrong.. but like you he should face the consequences.. I don't know but where I live all tenants including livin pussy on a temp basis has th right to a 30 day notice.. even if you're not paying rent\bills check what the law is where your at and sue his ass and make sure you do it while his wife is here..

I believe in this case his wife has a right to know..because he took you to their home\bed used their sed on a daily basis..

For you or any that choses to mess around w\ a married should know your place..and stay in that place.. and don't give it up for nothing get something out of it.. no ands if or bu
Posted by brutalpatti on March 30, 2011 at 4:06 PM · Report this
88
@83:

"@68: Oh, puh-lease. Get educated."

Exactly. It's not possible for an educated person to disagree with you. Well then, puh-lease educate me.
Posted by kungfujew on March 30, 2011 at 4:08 PM · Report this
89
Well I guess this is the time when I just disagree with Dan. The Frustrated Fiancee dude sounds like an immature jerk who just may not be ready for marriage yet. But...he certainly doesn't sound like an abuser or a likely future abuser. He jumped the gun with the standard therapy bullcrap. I used to hit the arcade games when I was a kid and got kicked out more than once. It is simple immaturity and this shall pass.

I would sure like to know some of Wallflower's friends.

As for the pathetic Sad Eyes, it is also clear SHE is the bigger jerk.
-SHE moved in very, very hard at the precise time when he was most vulnerable.
-SHE wormed her way into his life (fucked her way actually but it is the same thing)
-SHE moved in with him within days of his wife leaving
-SHE did not even discuss the future, living day to day
-SHE actively planned to break up a family.

Meanwhile the cheating cad
-obviously had a rational plan from the beginning
-never lied to this cheating enabling aggressor wench
-preserved his family

So she is the bigger jerk.
Posted by Professor on March 30, 2011 at 4:09 PM · Report this
90
FF - He doesn't have to actually hit you to make your life miserable. Living around that kind of anger is toxic. You ought to know. Don't let history repeat itself.
Posted by Magpie on March 30, 2011 at 4:16 PM · Report this
91
Frustrated Fiancée...I dated the guy you're about to marry for 5 years. He was sweet and thoughtful and gave me little just-because gifts. He also punched holes through walls, ripped screen doors off their hinges, and threw and broke things in his little rages.

It was great for a while, but it only got worse, and as it got worse I found myself making the same excuses to myself as you are doing now. He'd never hit me, he's really a gentle person when he's not throwing a tantrum, he's just angry because of x and y and I'll just wait for him to calm down and he'll be fine again. In the end, I was just feeding myself a bunch of bullshit to rationalize his behavior so that I could pretend he wasn't abusive. I finally found the courage to leave him when I was two states away, over the phone, so I was sure he wouldn't show up pounding at my door, angry enough that he'd finally hit me for the first time.

A person't doesn't HAVE to hit you to be abusive, you know. Some of the worst abuse comes from those who never lay a finger on you. And many abusers only get worse after marriage because they feel like they finally have you where you can't run away.

Tell him that therapy is not an option. DO NOT marry this man unless he makes this right and acknowledges his problem. If he flies off the handle when you make the ultimatum, do not let him put it all on you and make you the problem. Stand up for yourself and get the hell out of that relationship before you find out how bad it can get.
Posted by pettycure on March 30, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
92
Frustrated Fiancée...I dated the guy you're about to marry for 5 years. He was sweet and thoughtful and gave me little just-because gifts. He also punched holes through walls, ripped screen doors off their hinges, and threw things around and broke them -- and left them for me to clean up.

It was great for a while, but it only got worse, and as it got worse I found myself making the same excuses to myself as you are doing now. He'd never hit me, he's really a gentle person when he's not throwing a tantrum, etc. In the end, I was just feeding myself a bunch of bullshit to rationalize his behavior so that I could pretend he wasn't abusive. I had to break up with him over the phone, two states away, so I was sure he wouldn't show up pounding at my door, angry enough that he'd finally hit me for the first time.

A person't doesn't HAVE to hit you to be abusive, you know. Some of the worst abuse comes from those who never lay a finger on you. And many abusers only get worse after marriage because they feel like they finally have you where you can't run away.

Tell him that therapy is not an option. DO NOT marry this man unless he makes this right and acknowledges his problem. If he flies off the handle when you make the ultimatum, do not allow him to make you the bad guy. Stand up for yourself and get the hell out of that relationship before you find out how bad it can get.
Posted by pettycure on March 30, 2011 at 4:29 PM · Report this
93
Dan, thank YOU again for another great spot on column!

You and It Gets Better both ROCK THE HOUSE!!

Will you be doing any more book signings in Bellingham again soon?
Posted by auntie grizelda on March 30, 2011 at 4:36 PM · Report this
94
FF,

I'm with the hard-liners here. Dump him immediately. Do not try to fix him. You are relationally handicapped. Your abused childhood has set you up to expect, even want, high drama in your familial situations. Abuse victims are drawn to abusers. He's in the same boat. Once you're family, you're likely to become his most satisfying punching bag. Find a guy who can control himself better, even if he isn't as declarative about his love for you.

When your next relationship gets serious, vet it with some mature friends; you're blind to this danger.

Posted by Hunter78 on March 30, 2011 at 4:58 PM · Report this
95
to FF: maybe he won't ever hit you. But will you ever be fully comfortable around him, on a daily basis?
I've known fathers with anger issues... if you've never seen a child trying to learn how to react to his father's tantrums... it's absolutely heart-breaking.

and @6 yes, it gets old. but we're bombarded by advertising everywhere, all the time. Complain about the insanity you see on TV, not the small block of text you can choose whether or not to read.
Posted by mmaaxx on March 30, 2011 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Free Busch On Tuesday 96
DUMP THE MOTHERLOVER ALREADY
Posted by Free Busch On Tuesday on March 30, 2011 at 5:53 PM · Report this
97
"Some of the worst abuse comes from those who never lay a finger on you."

Yeah, because mean words are worse than a cracked eye orbital and dislocated jaw.

People sniveling about how "the worst abuse comes from those who never lay a finger on you" have never been really beat.

Lady, leave the guy because he is an ass. But don't listen to the spotlight seekers on this board who want to pretend mean words are scarier or more traumatic than when you are watching your own blood flow. They are fucking clueless, and you should not put those two experiences on the same plane, let along elevate mean words above real physical violence.
Posted by No, no, the spotlight must be HERE! on March 30, 2011 at 6:56 PM · Report this
buddspal 98
does dan just sit back and read the comments, all "hee hee heeeeee haw" to himself. son of a bitch cost me 10 minutes of private internet time at work to get the sad eyes lyrics. and some smart ass mf'ers printed them for nothing.

also, shut up haters from me as well, it's dans ball, he'll pick it up and run home if you guys keep pestering him like this.
Posted by buddspal on March 30, 2011 at 7:09 PM · Report this
99
On the It Gets Better....I have to say, Dan, you may have left the church some time ago but the church did not completely leave you. I think Jesus would approve- remember, your neighbor is the one who showed mercy.

I had a student approach me after class last week following my lecture on the history of same sex relationships. The conversation in the class had got a bit heated but I managed to calm it all down and defend the gay rights issue against what was really a room full of haters.

Anyhow, the student had not said a word during the class and was visibly upset when he approached me after. He started crying when he told me he thought he was gay and he didn't know what he was going to do.

I pointed him to It Gets Better and this week he was happy and confident. He participated in the class discussion and made some good points, forcing a couple of the louder students to back down. After class he thanked me which was one of the most rewarding things that have happened in all my years teaching undergraduates.

Keep spreading the Gospel, Dan! It gets better.
Posted by Professor on March 30, 2011 at 7:34 PM · Report this
westcoastie 100
To frustrated feancee
You fiancee sound just like my father and I will say I agree with dans advice.
If your soon to be hubby is any thing like my father who would smash the toaster because it, not him, burnt his toast, he is a genuenly nice guy how has no people skils and an anger problem. That is no excuse for being an ass and when my mother broght home divorce papers my dad made the apointment with the therapist. And thing got better (not perfect) in a hurry
And after thirty years of marige my father has never hit me my brothers or my mother while in a rage.
Posted by westcoastie http://www.facebook.com/colineckert?m2w on March 30, 2011 at 7:35 PM · Report this
101
@6 Don't see your point. Sure, Dan's preaching to the choir when he writes about "It Gets Better" here. The thank you above was lovely and he didn't have to say it.

I'm someone who could've used IGB when I was younger. I watch these videos and recognize the looks in the eyes of the speakers, the way voices break as they tell their stories & the way they purse their lips trying not to cry as they speak. Anyone who's been where they are will tell you this is real emotion from people who are survivors.

It may not be entertaining enough for you but it's helping thousands of people. Dan's to be commended for this not berated for not being funny enough.

I'm relatively new around here compared to a lot of people. I went back when I first discovered Slog & read thru archives from the beginning. Dan's compassion is not new. I don't know where people get the idea that it is.
Posted by capricorn44 on March 30, 2011 at 7:50 PM · Report this
Y.F. Redux 102
Dear Frustrated Fiancée,

He hasn't hit you yet. He'll save that till you're knocked up and "stuck" with him. If you try to leave he'll 1.) stalk you 2.) kill you 3.) kill your kids 4) all of the above. You won't leave him though. You, like many fools in love, will make excuses for his behavior, cover for him, and refuse to believe your love won't heal gag his pain and cure him of his bad behavior.

Dear Sad Eyes,

You. Aren't. A. Victim! The wife is! You are a selfish pig. You are as much as selfish pig as the husband. Quit whining and feeling sorry for yourself! Jeez!
Posted by Y.F. Redux on March 30, 2011 at 7:58 PM · Report this
westcoastie 103
Hello frustraded fiancee
Your soon to be hubby sounds just like my father who would smash the toaster when it, not him, burnt his toast. And have a tantrum every other night because he could not find his keys wallet or he had no clean underwaer.
Having grown up with it and have first hand exsipence with it I agree with dans advice. My dad is a nice guy with no people skills and a problem dealing with his anger. And he needs to know that there is no excuse for being an ass. And my father was the one who made the apointment with the therapist the day after my mother came home with divorce papers even though he openly did not want to go. Things have been better not perfect. My father is still a caring ass but dose not rage over petty stuff.
My folks are still married after thirty years and my father has never hit anyone while in a rage but be causis of stray flying shoes
Posted by westcoastie http://www.facebook.com/colineckert?m2w on March 30, 2011 at 8:02 PM · Report this
westcoastie 104
And sad eye quityourbichen what did you exspet you are a home wrecker you have no reasony cry be glad you got laid a few times and feel lucky if a bunch of angery army men/wemen don't come and maul both you and your whatever he is exlover, scumy boy friend...
Posted by westcoastie http://www.facebook.com/colineckert?m2w on March 30, 2011 at 8:10 PM · Report this
105
FF, I'm with the majority here--don't marry him. Or, if you're dead set on that, then put off the marriage until you see long-term change. But if you don't want to follow that advice, then whatever you do, do NOT bring children into your home unless you've seen long term change. You may decide that you can live with that sort of anger. As an adult, that's certainly your choice to make. But children should not have to. Not to mention, if he acts crazy over late subways, he'll go ballistic over the daily stresses children add.
Posted by timeforchange on March 30, 2011 at 10:27 PM · Report this
106
My guess is, the guy needs medication, not just therapy, Tantrums like that are often a sign of something out of wack in the brain. This is not to say he has no control, but oversimplify hugely if we expect people to just "grow up" like that.

Also, as someone who can be prone to tantrums over little things when I get really stressed (definitely a brain chemistry issue due to ADHD, I'm working on it with success), I really resent the notion that taking out anger on inanimate objects = will probably/definitely take out anger on human beings. I've broken a lot of stuff in my life but I do NOT hit people. Not ever. Not once in my adult life.

He's a douche if he doesn't want to work on it, but I hate the notion that displays of temper are a definite sign of impending violence. I've seen so many good people get crucified for that bullshit.
Posted by laurelgardner http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5877570 on March 31, 2011 at 3:56 AM · Report this
107
@106

It's great that you are having success dealing with your anger issue.

Many people who get divorced find new love. Given that the LW is not even married yet there is an opportunity to move on and find someone else who is not a potential threat. Notice I said "potential" and not "definite." It's up to her to decide whether the potential payoff is worth the unnecessary risk.

As a person with bipolar I recognize that disclosing my illness may be a dealbreaker for many people. It's just something to accept about reality. At least anger issues can be cured. Her fiance can fix his problem and start anew, with a clean slate.
Posted by jenesasquatch on March 31, 2011 at 6:03 AM · Report this
108
@Frustrated Fiancée;

The thing about "angry people" is that sooner or later they are going to get around to being angry at you. You don't want to be around them.
Posted by SavageFan50 on March 31, 2011 at 7:05 AM · Report this
109
I had a temper tantrum boyfriend in graduate school. I never could predict what would set him off, mostly because he was predisposed to take things personally, even things that were offered as compliments to him or things that had nothing whatsoever to do with him.

One night when we were cooking together (lesson: cooking with someone teaches you a lot about them) and he was getting all bent out of shape, I deliberately went to the other side of the kitchen and started doing dishes. In other words, cowering. And, while cowering, thinking to myself, "Holy shit, I'm my mom, I'm doing exactly what my mom did, holy shit, holy shit..." While I was standing there marveling at the power of childhood conditioning, he whipped his cooking spoon across the room because something else went wrong.

After he calmed down, I tried talking to him, doing (as a commenter above mentioned) the I statements thing. I made the mistake, however, of using the word "cower" when I tried to talk about my reaction and he exploded. I mean exploded.

That was the cycle. He'd explode, I'd try talking to him about it, and then he'd explode because I tried talking with him about it. I joked with friends that he owed me two apologies for each incident.

To the point. I was astounded by how readily I played the victim even while being both conscious of and distant from the dynamic as it unfolded. I joked with friends when they asked me how things were going--"Not much longer" was my refrain--because I knew that I was reaching a patience limit. I knew it would end when the irritation/exhaustion of the outbursts would outweigh all the consistent sex I was having.

So, this is the kicker: my casual reaction to the whole thing made me realize that I was free to protect myself emotionally and then to leave eventually because I didn't love him. I felt no need to save him, to change him, to rationalize his behavior or to selectively focus on the calms between outbursts--all the games the victimized play to cope with the abuse.

So, what I learned from this was that it's really easy to sit on the sidelines and say DTMFA because you don't have emotional stakes in the situation. Feeling love? That's the hard thing to walk away from.
More...
Posted by maddy811 on March 31, 2011 at 7:42 AM · Report this
110
While he may never turn abusive - you have some issues yourself. You've picked a man just like your father. You need to deal with that - you deserve better than that - even if he never hits you - you will still be emotional abused. Take it from one who knows
Posted by Granny1950 on March 31, 2011 at 9:56 AM · Report this
111
To FF: My story is that although my tantrum-thrower never did hit me, he did: drive the car through the garage door in anger; ball up his fist at my face many times in order to make me flinch/back down from my very valid issue; punch holes in walls, doors, and the car dashboard; swing a hammer at my head (I ducked); and drive drunk at 120 mph on a freeway, then stop short in the middle of the road, causing me to bonk my forehead on the windshield, while terrified of a collision. Now, my oldest son, while not like my husband in very many ways, punches and breaks things when he is angry too, like his dad, and holds things in out of fear of a reaction, when they should be expressed, like me. Worst of both examples. Please get out while you can.
Posted by HRH on March 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM · Report this
112
@6--My oh my, how your need to be entertained has blinded you. Perhaps you are the one in need of a sabbatical.
Dan is the Martin Luther King of the gay rights movement. IGBP may really be the difference between choosing life over death for so many in need. That he's packed his bags and is hauling his ass all over the country to further the cause is too be celebrated.
Until you top his accomplishments, you need to STFU.
Posted by DanFan503 on March 31, 2011 at 12:45 PM · Report this
113
Dan I usually dig just about everything you say but I have to kindly disagree this time. In your response to the lady whose fiance throws tantrums you seemed pretty sure that eventually those tantrums would lead to physical abuse. I hate to admit it but from my own life experience I can assure you that's not always the case at all. I have struggled with an anger problem for most of my life. I've since calmed down quite a bit and don't suffer from major tantrums anymore but I sure used to. I have broken many pieces of furniture in my life as well as put countless holes in walls and doors. Even to this day from time to time I am liable to gently punch a wall if I know it won't break either the wall or my hand. I have never lifted a finger to hurt any woman I was with nor have I ever acted in a threatening manner to them. I have always accepted that at times the only way I cold see to release my anger was to hurt an inanimate object. Now of course I've gotten older and gained a great deal of control over my anger but even at my worst I never hurt anyone or even caused them to fear I may escalate. It's simply not a hard and fast rule. I didn't like the person I was but I had definite limits. Hurting someone I loved or even hurting a stranger for that matter was never even a remote option. All tantrum throwers aren't the same and there isn't a guaranteed continuum of violence.
Posted by AverageJoe on March 31, 2011 at 2:10 PM · Report this
114
Does FF's fiance scream obscenities at his boss? Does he throw things across the room at his workplace? I bet he doesn't, because he knows he wouldn't get away with it. He can control himself - he chooses not to.

I used to have temper tantrums, to shout, scream, and throw things. I knew this behaviour hurt other people, even as I said it wasn't my fault because I just had a bad temper. Fortunately for me my parents did not indulge this ludicrous behaviour, and I stopped aged about nine. These days I can still get angry about things, but I deal with it in a civilized way. I don't shout. I don't scream. I don't throw things. I remember I'm a grown-up and I behave like one. The sort of behaviour FF's fiance is indulging in is just that - an indulgence. No one who has the social competence to have a fiance doesn't also have the social competence not to scream obscenities in supermarkets (and is he screaming at shop assistants - that really is a violent act). He just likes to scream obscenities more than he cares about other people, including FF.
Posted by Nineveh on March 31, 2011 at 2:36 PM · Report this
sissoucat 115
@114 right on spot !
Posted by sissoucat on March 31, 2011 at 3:26 PM · Report this
116
I realize that Sad Eyes is a song, but let's take the question as a hypothetical. Who's the bigger jerk? Assuming the marriage was the sort where 2 people stand up in front of a congregation and promise monogamy to one another, he is. He's the one who went back on his word, his promise to himself, his wife and their whole community. All the writer did was delude herself. When will people get over the idea that other people are supposed to keep their marriage vows for them, that they wouldn't be unfaithful if they weren't tempted?

For the guys who answered Frustrated Fiancee with renditions of how they used to have tempers but never went on to become abusers, could we hear from your exes or current partners, please? I don't want to hear from you what she said. I want to hear from a woman who's still with a guy with such a violent temper and how he got over it with therapy and never hit her. I'm willing to believe it can happen; I'd like to hear it from her side.
Posted by Crinoline on March 31, 2011 at 3:35 PM · Report this
jesgal 117
FF - read the book below and share it with your soon-to-be spouse. It saved me and my marriage. I grew up in an extremely violent home, and never knew how to live with that part of me. I never hit my spouse, but the verbal abuse was always flowing from my mouth. I am not making excuses, but it's hard to know that your anger needs love and caring just like your sexuality.

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh
Posted by jesgal on March 31, 2011 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Bluejean Baby 118
@68 - throwing keys during a temper tantrum *could* be a sign of uglier things to come. How did he throw his keys? Did he throw them on the floor, or did he throw them at something? If it is the latter, then i would be concerned.

My ex had anger issues, though i didn't recognize the problem until well after we were married. It started subtly, and infrequently, with name-calling and belittling. Then i noticed that he had isolated me from my friends, and was trying to control who in my family had contact with me, meanwhile, we spent great amounts of time with his family. He took away my self-esteem by making sure that no matter what i did, it just wasn't good enough. In joint counselling, he had me believing that i was the wind beneath his wings, but he would return to the house and it would be no time at all before he would continue his name-calling, belittling, and verbal assaults on me.

One day, we were having a disagreement over a not-so-huge issue, and he physically assaulted me. We never discussed it, mainly because i was afraid to broach the topic. Within a 6 month period thereafter, he physically assaulted me three more times, all incidents were (in my mind) minor disagreements or issues that, when it resulted in him punching me or shoving me so hard that i wound up on the floor, completely shocked me.

In counselling, he tried to make the therapist believe that i dreamt up the assaults. For the longest time, he wouldn't admit to any of the physical assaults. That was when i knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would re-offend, and that i needed to get away from him and stay away forever. Which is what i did.

So, FF, if you don't know what to do NOW, then just try to picture yourself after years and years of this abusive behaviour from your b/f, you being embarrassed over and over again and again by his public temper tantrums and private rages. Multiply that by 20 years, and do you think you will be lovingly laying in his arms at night?

I think you know the answer already, as you would never have written to Dan, had you not had a clue. Now you have to act on your gut instinct and leave this man. He is not your match. Save yourself the pain and humiliation of what is to come if you do marry him, wish him all the best in his life, turn, and walk away. Tell him you are not his match. Tell him this, because it is the truth, but please do not tell him behind closed doors. Tell him in a very public place, such as a busy coffee shop, or at the crowded beach, or in the shopping mall, where other people are around you and you have the safety of the crowd around you, and, if need be, possible witnesses. This way, you will be assured of your safety, as long as you do walk away, get in your own car, and drive away to your own home without him. Do not tell him that you are leaving him unless you already have your exit plan worked out and you are ready to leave immediately, if you sense that he could "go off" on you with this bit of bad news.

If you think you (still) love him and wither from breaking away from him, do it for the safety of any future children you have, so that they and you may live in peace and contentment in a home full of love. A home cannot be full of love when it has within it a person who flies off the handle at a whim.

Finally, Good Luck!
More...
Posted by Bluejean Baby on March 31, 2011 at 8:18 PM · Report this
119
@16 - That is so clueless! He is ALREADY abusing her by continuing to engage in behavior that he knows is frightening to her. And no abusive person starts out by slugging the one they love in the face - if they did, there would be no such thing as abusive relationships because they'd be too easy to avoid. No, they start out with little things and then gradually escalate. Besides, why take the chance when there are so many other fish in the sea?
Posted by Diagoras on March 31, 2011 at 9:46 PM · Report this
120
@116, I'm not the woman (wife) but I am the daughter. My father had an anger control problem, and finally he gave my mother a black eye she called the cops and got a PINS petition on him. That meant he was forced to stay away from the house for 10 days or agree to anger management counseling. He agreed after a couple of days and hasn't hit anyone since. However, he's still a control freak and my parents still have a dysfunctional relationship in which they scream at each other and call each other ugly names.

I am SO glad I married a man who knows how to chill and be mellow!
Posted by Diagoras on March 31, 2011 at 9:52 PM · Report this
heartofgold 121
Didn't Lily Tomlin once say that the problem with being the slightly lesser jerk is that you are still a jerk?
No? I may have paraphrased wrongly.
Posted by heartofgold on April 1, 2011 at 3:12 AM · Report this
122
@119 Diagoras, you've made an interesting point there about abusive relationships not starting out that way. Never thought of it before but so many people make the excuse that the abuser 'can't help themselves'. And yet, as you say, if abusive relationships started out with a punch in the face they would be easier to avoid. Which means to me that the abusers have enough awareness to control their behaviour enough to lure people in. Thanks for the new perspective! I shall be putting that to use when I make excuses for a couple of people in my life.
Posted by capricorn44 on April 1, 2011 at 6:23 AM · Report this
123
To everyone talking about the tantrum-throwers ability to control his behavior....

We all hide things we don't like about ourselves from people, and only share those things with those we feel closest. For abuse that's not rooted in misogyny and control, but rather a genuine mental illness or disorder, one's uncontrollable temper likely falls into this category. So he can control himself at work or around casual friends, but to his partner and in his home, or in situations where the opinions of anonymous bystanders don't matter to him, he lets down this guard. If this is the case, he absolutely needs help, but blaming him for being an opportunistic and/or misogynist asshole doesn't help.

For abuse that is rooted in misogyny and control, the violence and anger are strategic. For abuse rooted in mental illness, a lack of control over it is a defining characteristic.

I don't want to come across as an apologist for abusers, just highlight that it's not that simple.
Posted by offfwhite on April 1, 2011 at 7:18 AM · Report this
Bonefish 124
123: He may turn out not to be abusive, and to just be a tantrum-thrower, but nobody owes it to anyone to take that chance. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on April 1, 2011 at 8:40 AM · Report this
125
@122 are you making excuses for the victims of abuse or the abusers? Either way, it seems as if you could probably find a better use of your time & energy.
Posted by EricaP on April 1, 2011 at 9:01 AM · Report this
126
@124

I didn't say anything about the line between abuse and tantrum-throwing. Or about whether or not she should leave. Who are you responding to?
Posted by offfwhite on April 1, 2011 at 9:40 AM · Report this
127
I broke off my relationship with the most kind, intelligent, witty, and handsome man on the planet because he became verbally abusive. His tirades were out of proportion to my "offences", which were simply things that were not at the top of my list, and which he could easily have done himself. He never apologized, never admitted that his behavior was inappropriate, and tried to control my life by his disdain and disapproval of anything I wanted to do.

I had never been in an abusive relationship, and was slow to see the potential outcome. It took a year, but when I finally made the connection I didn't need to write to Dan to see what he would say. DTMFA. So I did. It wasn't that hard to do, and no regrets. Thanks, Dan!
Posted by painless on April 1, 2011 at 9:53 AM · Report this
128
Dan Savage is a boring old lady. Suicidal gay teens make great music.

Frustrated Fiancee: Marry this guy, he'll keep your crazy ass in line and probably won't tolerate a pocket dog or a Prius.

Wallflower: Where is this orgy, exactly?

Sad Eyes: My wife just left for an extended deployment to her mother's house for the wknd. Hit me up.
Posted by SleepingWithNannyState on April 1, 2011 at 4:09 PM · Report this
129
hi I guess I don't know what I am doing. I need some advice for my sons
Posted by Mike in Phoenix on April 1, 2011 at 5:42 PM · Report this
130
I have nine kids whom I love more than I am able to describe. Two of my boys have confided in me that they are gay. These are popular boys who attend a private school are scholar/athletes and are set to go to University. They have explained their situation to their brothers and their sisters and to their mother. I am the last to hear of this. I love my sons. I love them more than anything. How can I counsel them? How can I make their lives more safe and happy? How do I greet a teenaged boyfriend at Easter?
Posted by Mike in Phoenix on April 1, 2011 at 6:06 PM · Report this
131
@Crinoline

Okay, I'll bite. I'm currently engaged to someone who could have been the man in FF's letter. A year ago, his tantrums were occurring weekly (yelling, stomping, crying, breaking his own things)... he's already down to monthly or less and they're *much* shorter and milder (starts yelling, stops himself, takes a walk or a shower, comes back calm). I think there is a huge difference between someone who has trouble controlling their emotions, but is willing to work on it, and someone who either refuses to admit they have a problem, or consciously does it as a form of control and abuse. I can't tell which the fiance is from the letter alone, but I agree with Dan's advice to solve the problem before getting married, or don't get married at all.

I think we had several things working in our favor though:
1) The very first tantrum in my presence, I waited until he finished, sat him down, and told him this is a dealbreaker unless he learns to control himself. And if he were to ever hit me, damage my property, or verbally abuse me, he will get no second chance, full stop.
2) He's embarrassed of his own behavior and wants to change, including practicing anger management techniques when he's *not* having a tantrum, so he can become skilled at avoiding them.
3) He has no other abuse red flags; he's respectful, never name-calls or demeans, never controlling, etc. The tantrums stem purely from anxiety issues that spiral out of control.
4) I'm very difficult to anger or personally offend, so I'm the "rare kind" of person Skipper Jo mentioned in #64, and I do not get sucked into the drama of the tantrums myself. As long as he continues improving, and stays tantrum-free for many months, I feel safe and confident marrying this man.

Now, clearly, FF does not have 1, 2, or 4 to help in her situation. I won't make any statement on what she should do, what anyone should do, or whether my kind of situation is common. But yes, some people are capable of controlling their anger - if they actively work on it. If they refuse or the behavior worsens, definitely DTMFA and run.
More...
Posted by Confident Fiancee on April 1, 2011 at 6:10 PM · Report this
Bluejean Baby 132
@ Mike in Phoenix, first of all, you do know what you're doing - you outright said that you love all your nine kids more than you can say. That is the #1 requirement of parenthood, so you're well into doing things right.

Your 2 boys confided in you. This means they trust you... right again. We're on a roll. They are gay, but not fully "out", but that is up to them, not you. Whatever, whenever they choose, it's their call, not yours, and there's nothing you can do but sit on the sidelines and help them in the aftermath. Hopefully, there will be little aftermath of negative value.

Don't place much value on being the last to hear of their sexuality; it may not mean that you are last in their eyes, rather, they worked the vocab till they got it just right so they said it how they wanted to say it to you. Revel in the fact that they trust you enough to tell you.

Tell your lovely sons to read Dan Savage. Tell them to log on and go to www.itgetsbetter.org and read, read, read. You have contributed all you have, already, to make their lives safe and happy... sounds like they are well on their way to go it on their own at university.

Greet the b/f's at easter in the same way you would greet all your children's friends. Do not put on false airs; people of all ages, young and old, see right through that. Be yourself. You sound like an upstanding Dad. Just be the Dad and enjoy easter.

Good luck.
Posted by Bluejean Baby on April 1, 2011 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Canuck 133
Bluejean Baby @132...that was perfect. I'd only add that I think sons often feel they need to live up to their dad's expectations, and knowing that Mike in Phoenix supports and loves them, regardless of their orientation, will be huge for them. He will be their springboard.
Posted by Canuck on April 2, 2011 at 12:20 AM · Report this
134
Awwww...
Posted by EricaP on April 2, 2011 at 12:36 AM · Report this
135
Just to add (not that Bluejean didn't cover this all pretty well), that high school aged kids coming out to their parents is HUGE, and it means they really do trust you. I think it's quite common for boys to worry about their dads; it sounds like you might be a religious family and this might give them a moment's pause--I don't mean to suggest that religious people are bigots on this point, but those that are make an awful lot of noise. However, Bluejean is dead on. They may have been a little nervous and felt it was easier to tell their mother first, but the fact that they came out *before* college suggests, to me anyway, that they got nervous but then remembered, "oh, shit, this is DAD we're talking about, he loves us like crazy and nothing's going to change that." There can be no better indication that you're a wonderful parent.
Posted by chicago girl on April 2, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
136
I love your show but jesus you have to put a time limit on the phone messages. Holy christ by the time they finish I'm ready to slit my wrists.
Posted by listener response on April 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM · Report this
mauranyc 137
My girlfriend and I got our autographed copy of the It Gets Better book when Dan and Terry were here in NYC. It was a great night--very moving and also very funny. I also got to present Dan with one of my paintings about gay bullying!
Posted by mauranyc http://mauramcgurk.com on April 2, 2011 at 10:23 AM · Report this
BEG 138
Hey, guys, are the podcasts audio only , or are they video, too? Sometimes it's not about the technology, but the fact that I can't hear, or I'd be checking the podcasts, too :)

Not worried about the preponderance of IGBP -- everything has its time & place, everything evolves. If this column was always the same since 1998, it'd be pretty boring, eh?

I use the facebook button at the top to find the speaking tours w/locations and dates. Nothing near me yet but someday I'm sure.

Mike in Phoenix -- nine kids -- WOW! I agree with the others - letting you know while they still live at home, and the questions you're asking yourself -- great dad. Sounds like not only are you proud of them, they are proud of you.
Posted by BEG http://twitter.com/#!/browneyedgirl65 on April 2, 2011 at 2:28 PM · Report this
139
what's with the guys advising FF to stay with the asshole because he hasn't hit her yet? are they part of an international conspiracy to increase the chances of women being sucked into abusive relationships? if you want to marry someone who's physically violent, go ahead. don't wish it on others, though.
Posted by circe on April 2, 2011 at 4:12 PM · Report this
140
@138 BEG

I think they are audio only. How do you normally get around that? How would video help?
Posted by jenesasquatch on April 2, 2011 at 8:25 PM · Report this
141 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
142
@140: I would imagine that video would allow some degree of lip reading. I speak as someone with only slightly poor hearing, though. (I generally watch lips to clarify things. I can talk on the phone, but people have to repeat things a lot for me. This is actually a big part of why I don't listen to the podcast, either.)

@138: I wish I could help you out. Maybe someone would be willing to transcribe it for you?

@130: The last family member that I came out to was my dad. I wish he'd reacted the way you seem to be; instead, things got bad enough that my mom went behind my back and lied to him, saying that he'd misunderstood me.

The most important thing to know, I think, is this: being gay doesn't man they'll be attracted to every boy in the world. A lot of straight people forget that, in my experience. (My dad didn't want me to have friends over, because he thought we'd get up to stuff, even though my female friends were often straight and almost always uninterested in me romantically, even if they weren't.)

I think you'll do fine.

Also, send them to scarleteen.com. It's an amazing website.

Good luck!
Posted by Namae nante iranai! on April 3, 2011 at 8:01 AM · Report this
143
Hilarious Sad Eyes Prank. But was this played by Dan or on Dan?

I was so flummoxed by the "she's coming home today" thing. How can she get her stuff packed up? How can he remove any trace of the other woman? I was thinking, "He's so busted." HA!
Posted by ggg on April 3, 2011 at 2:34 PM · Report this
144
UPDATE THE WEBSITE, FOR THE LOVE OF LUBE

my fears of HIV were momentarily rekindled just from how much I feel like back in 1991 after visiting the page. Would a blogspot be so terrible?

my firefox even crashed from posting the first few times -_-;;

@redslade
Posted by redslade on April 3, 2011 at 5:06 PM · Report this
145
it gets better rocks dan!

Posted by sbrb on April 3, 2011 at 9:54 PM · Report this
westcoastie 146
Gee I gues 123 was just saying that most of you are talking about some thing you really have no clue about and that there is maybe a difernce between someone who has tantrumes and some who is abusive or violent. And by most of yalls logic you are saying that an abuser throws tantrums. Why don't you all go back in to the all the old savage love letters and see how many folks that have said their significant other is abusive and throws tantrums. Hummm not many. So why would any one assume that tantrums and abuse go hand in hand
Posted by westcoastie http://www.facebook.com/colineckert?m2w on April 3, 2011 at 10:19 PM · Report this
westcoastie 147
Oh and just to reiderait what I said earlyer my father throws tantrums punches walls and after thirty yaers 30 trips around the sun three decades, my father has yet to actully hit some one or throw some thing at some one or hurt some one. And that is only thirty years he has been my father and my mother would not have married the guy if he had a histoyr of hurting others. Tantums can be embarasing this I know first hand but abuse is not in the definition of tantrums
Posted by westcoastie http://www.facebook.com/colineckert?m2w on April 3, 2011 at 10:35 PM · Report this
148
I think a lot of the on FF here are making an unfair conflation between tantrums and raging at a loved one. If that anger is ever unleashed at something the letter writer does, especially in her presence, he should be flagged as a potential abuser and treated accordingly. Until then, it would be far more fair to treat him as merely childish and embarrassing (which is, of course, a perfectly valid reason to break off an engagement).
Posted by jeffro on April 4, 2011 at 4:39 PM · Report this
149
I used to be very angry and throw my keys, curse loudly at video games, punch walls, etc. I would never hit anyone, but it was more self-abuse than anything. I got so worked up over every little thing that didn't go my way. It really hurt my relationships (both friend, and romantic) and looking back it was genuinely embarrassing behavior.

Then at 25 I started smoking cigarettes. 7 years later, in a completely new city, people I'm friends with now say I'm the most mellow and even-tempered person they know. And when they tell me I should quit and all I can say is "yeah, maybe. but it would be pretty unpleasant."

So yeah, there is probably some less-cancer-causing medication out there I should be taking. But the point is, no amount of therapy would have "cured" my behavior. I've come to the conclusion it's purely chemical.

Next time he flies off the handle, put a pack in front of him on the table and say "either you start smoking, or I'm leaving."
Posted by OldAndFat on April 4, 2011 at 5:24 PM · Report this
150
I think I'm a little late to the party, but here's my 0.02c:
to FF - I was married to the sweetest guy ever. No tantrums, no red flags, always calm and joyful. He hit me after 6 years of marriage. It had NEVER crossed my mind that he would ever hit me. Remember, no warning signs. And yet, he did. And I was out.

I agree with Dan here - the abuse has already started. It's emotional, not physical - yet. But when you're afraid to discuss something with your future husband because you're scared of his potential reaction, that's when the relationship starts to go south. It will only get worse. DTFMA

And another thing - I recently read Alain de Botton's book - "On Love" or "Essays on Love" (can't remember which one is the American Edition - if you see them both, they are the same thing). In that book, Alain makes a pretty good point. I suggest you read it, and you will understand what I mean. It instantly came to mind when you mentioned your dad.
Posted by ellabella7 on April 4, 2011 at 5:36 PM · Report this
westcoastie 151
Now wait a second here 150 dan said get counsaling and if he dose not go then dtmf and ff never said her S.O, focuse his rage on her she so it is not emotinal abuse never said she was afraid to discuse it she said she had discused it and that he was was unacsepting of the idea that he needed counseling. Your attention to detail is worse than my spelling.
Posted by westcoastie http://www.facebook.com/colineckert?m2w on April 4, 2011 at 8:28 PM · Report this
Bluejean Baby 152
It has been a horrid overcast day today, and tonight the wind is whipping around like mad... does that mean it will rain? No one knows.

150's post just goes to show that there is no set formulae for spotting an abusive person.

Most others (me included) have posted thoughts about how abusers might be spotted early on by their slow and escalating bad behaviour. FF's partner threw keys and tantrums, but hasn't hit her (yet).

My point is, there is no way to know. You have to follow your gut. But certainly, we all have varying levels of what we deem acceptable and what we are willing to live with.

Most would agree that when a person "goes off" over issues that can and should be handled with a level head, there is something amiss. If that person then physically strikes out and assaults someone, it's criminal behaviour.
Posted by Bluejean Baby on April 4, 2011 at 8:56 PM · Report this
153
FF's fiancé might have undiagnosed bipolar disorder. How do I know that? Well, my husband used to do the same thing constantly. He always seemed to be punching or crushing something... holes in the walls, (I've gotten really good at patching drywall over the years.) broken cell phones, eye glasses, video game controllers, and don't even get me started on putting together furniture from IKEA.

Having a bipolar partner can be scary. The constant mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks at all hours of the day/night, and occasional road rage are difficult to deal with at best and can be dangerous for all parties involved. Sometimes I wonder to myself if he was worth it. I guess, ultimately, I decided that he is... but it hasn't always been an easy road.

Once diagnosed by a professional the person has to accept the fact that they will mostly likely need to go on medication. Once on the medications they need to realize that just because the manic episodes have stopped doesn't mean they can stop taking the medication.

I know it sounds ridiculous… but I can’t tell you to stay with him or DTMFA… because in my opinion it would be irresponsible for me to tell you to stay or go because I’ve never met your fiancé. However, if he loves you he’ll be open to listening to you about going to see a psychologist/psychiatrist at the very least. Take it from there. If he’s willing to take responsibility for his actions and own up to his behavior then I think you’ve got a chance.
Posted by Seizetehday on April 5, 2011 at 8:42 AM · Report this
pamcash 154
FF-- just one more person chiming in to say Dan's right, he'll hit you, it happened to me. He will ruin your life. Leave. now.
Posted by pamcash on April 5, 2011 at 4:13 PM · Report this
155
@34 chrisbrown as a verb - love it!

@130 Um... Hi, it's nice to meet you? Treat your son's teenage boyfriend the same way you would treat your daughter's teenage boyfriend. They're just people, not aliens or anything. Have a happy Easter!
Posted by effingbreeder on April 6, 2011 at 11:23 AM · Report this
156
I was in a relationship for 2 yrs to a guy that was controlling, emotionally & physically abusive. The physical abuse did not occur until later towards the end of the relationship. He blamed everything on everyone else, but himself. He had such tantrums about every little thing that did not go his way... he even went through 4 Xbox controllers in 6 months because he would literally throw them across the room when he would lose. I would sit there in silence, pack up the cats & dog and sit in the bedroom because I was afraid for not only myself but for my pets too.

He would yell at me in public and I would literally cry...I was embarrassed of being around him. He would argue about how stupid I was that I couldn't read his hand-writing, I didn't get the right kind of juice or pick up his clothes from the cleaners. I was a working student with 2 jobs, and he was at home living off of workers comp. The tantrums never stopped even when we went to see a therapist. And in the end, I ended up going to therapy alone...because he said I had issues that needed to be worked out.

These chrisbrown tantrums do not go away, even with therapy. You deserve someone better! I now have a PFA for 3 years to keep him from harassing/hurting me. I have a new man in my life, and I am happier than I have ever been...
Just walk away and never look back!
Posted by JillyB122 on April 6, 2011 at 9:49 PM · Report this
157
I was in a relationship for 2 yrs to a guy that was controlling, emotionally & physically abusive. The physical abuse did not occur until later towards the end of the relationship. He blamed everything on everyone else, but himself. He had such tantrums about every little thing that did not go his way... he even went through 4 Xbox controllers in 6 months because he would literally throw them across the room when he would lose. I would sit there in silence, pack up the cats & dog and sit in the bedroom because I was afraid for not only myself but for my pets too.

He would yell at me in public and I would literally cry...I was embarrassed of being around him. He would argue about how stupid I was that I couldn't read his hand-writing, I didn't get the right kind of juice or pick up his clothes from the cleaners. I was a working student with 2 jobs, and he was at home living off of workers comp. The tantrums never stopped even when we went to see a therapist. And in the end, I ended up going to therapy alone...because he said I had issues that needed to be worked out.

These chrisbrown tantrums do not go away, even with therapy. You deserve someone better! I now have a PFA for 3 years to keep him from harassing/hurting me. I have a new man in my life, and I am happier than I have ever been...
Just walk away and never look back!
Posted by JillyB122 on April 6, 2011 at 9:51 PM · Report this
158
"For abuse that is rooted in misogyny and control, the violence and anger are strategic. For abuse rooted in mental illness, a lack of control over it is a defining characteristic."

Sure. At the end of the day it doesn't matter, however. The LW felt afraid around this guy, and no matter what their intent/strategy is (if there is one), you are walking on eggshells and afraid to bring anything up to them. You are in for a lifetime of humiliation and fear because your partner acts like a three year old.

No one should have to put up with that. If this is a mental health issue, then it's on HIM to get treatment. It's not on her to stick around.
Posted by Reality Chick on April 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM · Report this
159
What's this "chrisbrown" stuff?
Posted by Mister G on April 9, 2011 at 7:44 PM · Report this

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