I find it curious that somebody would write to an advice columnist and think that dumping their POS significant other shouldn't be an option. I think she knows secretly that that is exactly what she needs to do, but was hoping for an alternative.

If you are reading this, listen to Dan. You can also listen to this old fag as well when I tell you that the only thing worse than wasting one year with this person, is wasting one year and one day with them. RUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!
He wants to have "spontaneous" sex. I don't read anywhere in your letter that you are both so busy that you have to schedule sex in your Google calendar. So it sounds like the sex already is spontaneous.

What he means is that he wants to be able to strip you and bang you without all that "lengthy foreplay and making sure you have an orgasm first" stuff, because that's work on his part. And he's "impatient." He doesn't particularly care if you get off, as long as he can.

That's rude and inconsiderate behavior, and if he were as loving and sensitive etc. etc. as you claim, he would not behave that way. Period.

Oh, and foreplay IS sex, dear. "Sex" is not just penis-in-vagina intercourse. The problem is that he's "impatient" and doesn't want to take care of your medically affected needs to make sure you enjoy the PIV intercourse before he climbs on top and bangs away.

Just because he's an alcoholic doesn't mean that he's the right guy for you. His mental illness doesn't excuse his asshat behavior. You should dump him because the crappy things he does outweigh the nice things he does.

And he does not drink because you give him bad sex. He drinks because he gets something out of it. If he didn't get anything out of it any more, he would find a way to get clean. Since he is not yet clean and sober, he is obviously getting something out of it that sobriety doesn't give him.

Dump him. Find someone who wants a girlfriend, not a sex toy. You are too young to put up with this shit.
When is a 40 something year old Alcoholic not drunk? Notice she says when he hasn't had "relatively" too much to drink? I'm guessing Casanova is never really sober and the LW is just too new to relationships to recognize when they are crap.
I totally agree: DTMFA. However, I fear she'll never do it because this letter seems to have been written by the a-hole himself and not by the girl. I don't know: I got that feeling...
"P.S. You might be thinking something along the lines of "DTMFA."

After reading what she wrote to you, she guessed you MIGHT be thinking of something along those lines?
Oh God, what a mess. Go to Al-Anon.
The final part is what gets to me. Yes I know he sounds like an abusive asshole, but you really don't know him! He's amazing and sweet whenever he's not drunk. I mean, he's drunk a lot, but that's my fault. He told me so, when he was drunk.

You're in love, which makes you irrational. Just imagine if a friend told you this same story. Alcoholic twice her age, makes her blame herself for his drinking because she's unwilling to have painful rushed sex all the time. You would scream DTMFA. You know it's the right decision. Surely you have people in your life who have already told you this? You can't fix him. There may be a fantastic, sexy, intelligent sensitive man under the drunken asshole, but the drunken asshole has the wheel. Tell him to get his ass to rehab and wish him luck finding a girl when he's sober again. Then run.
VAG, have you heard of "enabling"? That is what you are doing. Enabling him. You can't fix him. You can't make him stop drinking. The reason he is dating a much younger person is that nobody his age is willing to put up with his crap. Also, the younger more insecure ones are more willing to buy into the bullshit that his drinking is her fault. He is not sweet and loving. He is selfish and an asshole. You need to date other people in order to see the difference. Tell him that he needs to be totally sober for at least a year before you would consider dating him ever again. Then leave. Now. For good. Date other people. And remember that you are worth having a sober boyfriend. If he loved you at all, he would put your needs way above the bottle. Go to Al Anon.
@9: "The reason he is dating a much younger person is that nobody his age is willing to put up with his crap."


He may be, on some deep-down level, amazing and sweet and all that. But he's also an abusive alcoholic asshole. Do you really believe that there aren't any amazing and sweet guys who are NOT also alcoholics who'd be willing to date you? Maybe some counseling (for you) is in order.
That whole GGG thing doesn't apply just to girlfriends with kinky boyfriends. It's a minimum expected standard of behavior for people in all sorts of relationships. And your boyfriend is failing that, hard.

So your body requires some time and attention before penetrative sex. I know many men who see that as a bonus (they get to play with your body for awhile? Bonus!) and not something to get pissed at you about. It's true that alcoholism is a mental illness, but having a mental illness doesn't absolve him of responsibility for being an asshole.
He's taking advantage of your youth, inexperience, and insecurity. You are much too young to settle for this bullshit, trust me when I say that you can do better!
Dear VAG,

I understand you are not yet ready to DTMFA. Fine. Makes perfect sense to me. Just DTMFWYGAR.

When that day inevitably comes, please know that I am ready, willing and able to clear the bar of "doesn't hit you", and am at my core a wonderful person. Please understand that I will do my best to help you with the fact that everything bad in our relationship will be your fault, and I'll expect your support assholism recovery.
VAG "Additionally, I struggle with avoiding my problems, and when he is being mean to me or when I know that he's had a lot to drink, my tendency is to want to stay away from him and spend my time alone at my place"

This is the healthy part of you! This avoidance isn't your supposed anxiety disorder, this avoidance is your self-preservation instincts at work.

Like @7 says, go to Al Anon, tell him to go to AA, and tell him you guys can talk about dating again after six months of separation to address your different social issues. Work on your own issues, with a professional, before trying to date him again, or anyone else for that matter.
(Not that I think she should date him again, but just that when people are in love, it might be easier to hear "take a break" than "dump him")
I've held a certain theory for many years now: there's no such thing as a mean drunk. By which I mean, alcohol doesn't make them a "mean drunk," they're just a fucking asshole who's learned to pretend and behave like a decent person when they're sober. Alcohol lowers their inhibitions and self-control so their true, asshole nature comes out.

That's not to say someone's a shit if they're not perfect while drinking; almost everyone does or says something a little douche-y once in a while, drunk or not. But if they're pretty consistently an asshole under the influence, they're really just an asshole.
@16: yes.

No, really Dan Savage should open up a bedroom webcam business.

He and his minions could remotely monitor heterosexuals to determine if any laws were broken.

You could name it Spyenna McVid.
I dunno, guys, this is a tough one.
Sweet Jesus, I'm glad I'm not 20 anymore.
A few more points:
"...he becomes agitated, irrational, sarcastic, and mean when he has had a lot to drink. (He is never physically violent with me.) I have an anxiety disorder and am an especially sensitive person, and his behavior when he is drunk is extremely distressing to me."

Hon, having someone, especially a lover, become agitated, irrational, sarcastic and mean is distressing to *anyone*, whether they have an anxiety disorder or not. The most neurotypical, even-keeled, well-coping person is going to be distressed when they are treated this way. Reacting this way is *normal*, and it is your brain telling you that this is Not Okay.

Also, 'not being physically violent' is not necessarily a bonus. Not hitting your partner is like not shitting in the living room - it's the minimum expected standard of behavior in civilized society. No one (except maybe a three year old) is proud of the fact that they refrain from pooping in the living room. And no one should be proud of not hitting their partner, or think of it as a selling point.
Completely agree with the DTMFA answer - I knew that was where the letter was going within the first few sentences. BUT: did it bother anyone else that Dan referred to it as "the sadz?" If this guy actually does get depressed, causing him to drink, that is more than just "sadz"... it's serious. I also think that with this particular letter writer, as she emphasized the mental illness aspect of alcoholism and her own mental disorders, she could see this as belittling and making fun of either the situation or her presentation of it, and could use that as a deterrent to actually following Dan's advice.
Dan's advice and the comments above are all on target. The only thing more I'd add would be about seventy three thousand more "DTMFAs" at the end.

Holy shit. Run. Then, get a therapist so you can figure out how it happened and why this must never happen again.
What a mess! She thinks she can save him, and will be involved with him for several more years before she wakes up.
She probably comes from a family of alcoholics, grew up watching an enabler and this is all she knows and thinks she deserves. 'kind, sweet, gentle' my ass. It took me most of my young adulthood and many hours in Al-Anon before I saw the pattern in my relationships.
DTMFA and run for your life, dear. Your 30yo self will thank you for it.
LW - if you happen to be reading comments...reread this letter, but pretend it is written by your best girlfriend, sister, female cousin, etc. - some woman in your life that you feel really close to. What advice would you give her? That might give you some perspective on this situation that this is not the way you'd ever want for someone else you care about to be treated - so why would you put up with it yourself?

You mention in this letter that you have experience with mental illness. If that's true, then you know that it's not caused by/controlled by/cured by the amount of sex a person has. Would your social anxiety disorder be cured by the perfect sex life? No, it's something you manage with a lot of hard work on your part.

Finally - I know it can be so hard to break up with your first sexual partner. But, think about the potential relationship you are missing out on - with someone who will treat you with respect and love. It IS possible - you don't have to put up with this! The break up with suck and be hard, but then you'll get over it and be so much happier.
Alcoholism and depression are very hard things to struggle with. But you don't fix them with a relationship. You appear to be trying to fix his mental health problems, which means you're trying to be both his girlfriend and his therapist. And you clearly are not trained to be a therapist, because you are doing a terrible job at it, which is fine - because even if you were trained, you can't be the therapist for your partner. The two roles are mutually exclusive as they require different power dynamics. But what you are doing is enabling him to ignore how bad his problems are by buying into and reinforcing the story that the problem is his sex life, rather than that the problem is that he is a depressed alcoholic. He needs to put in a lot of real work to fix that. And it'll be easier for both of you if he does that while not in a relationship that is muddying up his point of view on what he needs to do to recover. So, be his friend and tell him to get real help, and tell him you won't be in a relationship with him until he is better. If he seems better, try getting some couple's counseling together and see whether a therapist feels that he is ready to be in a relationship again. You don't have to have sex with someone to support them, and sometimes a relationship is not a healthy or good thing for either of the people involved.

Or just dump him and find someone else. Because you can find someone who doesn't abuse you even when they do have something to drink. And he has been abusing you. People don't stop being responsible for their actions when they choose to drink alcohol. He chooses to drink alcohol even though he knows that he abuses you when he does so. And he chooses to be around you when he has been or will be drinking, even though he knows he will probably abuse you. That's pretty hard to excuse.
@16: I don't think this is entirely true. Alcohol can effect people in weird ways. One of my best friends is a terrible drunk: angry, easily provoked, occasionally scary. I've known him for all my life and sober he's literally a different person. I've never once seen him fly off the handle without booze. Cut him off in traffic? Cool as a cucumber.

Eventually enough people told him he could drink or keep his friends, and he decided to chuck the Wild Turkey.
D! T! M! F! A!
@23 Depression is when you're so unable to cope you can't deal with getting out of bed and functioning. It doesn't mean your an abusive asshat to people you you should treat well. You might not be able to show up, you may not be able to be supportive, but if you're truly depressed I assure you, you don't have the energy to abuse somebody for kicks.
VAG, perhaps you'd benefit by focusing more on the positive aspects of being in a relationship with a middle-aged, manipulative, sex-addicted, mean drunk.
@23. He drinks when he had "the sadz." Me guess is that he also drinks when he has "the happiez," when he wants to relax after a long day at work, when company drops in, when he's watching a football game, and on any kind of holiday. Then if LW does anything he doesn't like, he flies off the handle, an then his drinking is her fault.

When I was in my 20s I dated older men because they seemed nicer and more put-together than men my own age. Not to mention they were often better -as in more considerate- lovers.

So here's VAG with her older boyfriend who displays none of the advantages of age or experience, and in fact acts like a teenager


Yum! Where can I sign up for that?

Sorry for being sarcastic. I just feel like I'm going back in time and yelling at my former self for all the alcoholics/assholes I dated for any length of time.

Oh, and just a reminder from someone whose been in al-anon off and on: even if you have serious problems such as alcoholism and mental illness, YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE for yourself. VAG, you need to understand that your boyfriend may have bad genes, and boohoo for him, but it's his responsibility alone to do the hard work needed to recover and behave like a normal person in a relationship. He sounds too lazy right now (he calls it "discouraged" or "depressed" or "impatient") to even deal with himself, so why should you be bothered?
This is hard. I know it looks easy from outside of it, but from inside of a bad situation, even if you know it's a screwed up situation, it's never simple.

For one thing, people are not one sided. The biggest asshole on the planet has redeeming characteristics. It's sometimes very hard to decide whether their good or their bad is in the lead. I would imagine that's especially true if the bad appears to be completely situational.

But here's the thing. I know alcoholics who are the sweetest people on the planet, even when they're drunk. As number sixteen pointed out, alcohol doesn't make you an asshole. Being an asshole is harder to hide while drunk.

Furthermore, even assholes have people who love them. Which doesn't mean you should put up with their crap. Love is an amazing force. But it is simply not enough to sustain all relationships, as this column has been proving for years. She may love this man for the rest of her life, but I'm sorry to say that she should probably do it from another time zone. I understand how hard that will be for her. . . but it won't get any easier with time.
Hon, I have an anxiety disorder too. It sucks. But my husband is my ally. He works hard to never raise his voice at me even though a different lady might not mind. He has been endlessly kind and supportive throughout my therapeutic process. Its far from perfect but he is on my side. You need that kind of love. Anxious depressed people like us need allies at home, not enemies or assholes. Please DTMFA
My parents were alcoholics. They all have the same personality. Visit bars the world over, VAG & you'll find plenty of guys just like your BF.

Your problem, of course, isn't him. It's your low self-esteem, which tells you it's okay to put up w/ the shit you're served up on a daily basis. You dump your BF w/o addressing that, and you'll just find another POS who will dump on you like this guy.
A-fucking-MEN, Dan!

Too bad Dan Savage doesn't believe in 12- step programs. The boyfriend should go to AA (but won't - he doesn't see that there is any problem, and perhaps there isn't since he has a GF who will take care of him) and she should go to Al-Anon. But Dan doesn't believe in 12-step programs so he has nothing to offer her except the thing she doesn't want to hear and won't hear.

So Dan really doesn't have anything to offer her. She knows she should DTMFA. But she can't.
Er, letter writer, you're not broken. I know you've got a diagnosis or two, but they don't mean you're broken. Or that you have to go out with other broken people.
On the sex thing: I'm fairly sure my wife doesn't have vaginismus, but we always aim for an orgasm before penetration anyway. That's a perfectly normal thing to do, regardless of your diagnosis.
On the anxiety: if you have anxiety issues, the best thing to do would be to find a boyfriend who doesn't set them off. There are lots of men out there who won't. They're not necessarily better people, but their particular assholishness might be a kind that you will feel easier to handle. You don't have to find Mr Perfect. You just have to find a Mr Average who doesn't completely twist you up when he gets mean drunk.

@16 - I know what you mean, but what's wrong with learning? Socialising yourself is a good thing, not to be sneered at.
Please DTMA. For your own sanity and mental health.
PS lady, alcoholism is a addiction, not an illness. A compulsive behaviour as opposed to a disease process or disorder of the mind. Also alcohol disinhibits a person, think about that. It makes you less likely to inhibit your behaviours/thoughts- meaning that if he's a mean drunk, then he's not a nice person on the inside, sorry.

I'm sure you can meet a nice college boy. Go for the geeks, they will likely be sweeter to you (at least based on my experience, though I may be biased as a geek)
This letter is a textbook example of what Erica Jong said:

"Advice is what you ask for when you know the answer but wish you didn't."
Jesus. That was depressing.

Lady, if you're reading this: for better or for worse, right now, the drinking is part of him. You can't cordon it off and say "what happens then doesn't count". Dump him.

Maybe - MAYBE - if he quits drinking, you could take him back. But he probably won't.

Ugh. All my problems look small now, but at the same time hers are so easily solved. DTMFA.
I'd like to see a letter in response to which Mr Savage's first instinct is to reply DTMFA, but he can provide an Answer B after a postscript similar to the one appended to this letter.
please dump him.

right away.

post as soon as you have done it, we won't be able to sleep until we know you have......
I don't know if this is comparing apples to oranges, but I watched one of my bff's go from fun party girl who did coke on occasion to full-fledged blackout drunk alcoholic. She wudn't no nice drunk neither. That one "friendship" did more damage to me than all my ex-boyfriends combined. She undermined me, she was manipulative and cruel, she stole from me, she got me in trouble...the list could go on and on.

The thing is that all the advice in the world won't help this letter writer do what she needs to do. Just like the actual alcoholic, she'll have to hit her own personal rock bottom where she no longer recognizes the person she's become. I know this from experience. It wasn't until the very last fucking straw where I just couldn't take even one more day of her bullshit that I finally cut off all ties and shut the door to her forever. I consider her to be a dangerous person who will most likely murder someone if she hasn't already- not even an exaggeration.

And guess what? All that time you spend taking care of the alcoholic in your life will most likely only be repaid with a lot of undeserved anger and blame. If you stand in the way of your alcoholic's party-life then according to them you're a big debbie downer, no-fun, loser. I'm the bad guy in her version of the story, b/c I stopped being a doormat and wouldn't take her shit. That's when she got a lot meaner- when she couldn't get what she wanted. Every time I tried to leave her I had to sneak away and basically tell her that I was going out for cigarettes and then like, stay away for weeks or months. It took multiple attempts to break free from her, b/c she had her claws in pretty deeply.

Here's the craziest part- the good times are still seared into my memory. Often, I'm still genuinely sad for the loss. I wonder what happened to the person I used to know. We went through major milestones together and shared a lot of experiences. It wasn't easy to break off all contact and sometimes I was tempted to think things could be normal again, but luckily I was sane enough to know better. The way I looked at it was that she broke my trust first. She made it a forced choice between my sanity or our friendship, so I picked myself over the abusive sack of shit she had become.

Sometimes, you can't salvage everything that you want to be able to keep- you just have to cut your losses, close the door forever, get more therapy if needed, etc. It hurts a lot at first, but it's like a bandaid. Just rip it off and then run like hell and pretend that person is dead until you're strong enough to face your emotions without running back to take more abuse. Just because it's going to hurt to leave doesn't mean you should stay.

One other thing: Be prepared for all the rage you repressed for months or even years to come flooding out after you leave. The anger was harder for me to handle than the sadness, b/c anger wasn't as familiar as sadness. Your gonna want to vent to friends, write it everywhere, blog it, yell it, scream, punch pillows. You're gonna be really, really, really angry when you wake up at the end of a nightmare only to realize how much damage that alcoholic did to your life. Try al-anon. I only went to a few meetings, but it gave me insights that therapy never did.

#32 is right on. Alcoholics drink because the sky is blue, or it's raining, or the sun came out. On the positive (if you want to call it that) side, if she stays with him she won't have the sex problems for the rest of her life. When the liver starts to go it takes the hormones with it. He may spend five or ten years attempting sex without success... and eventually nothing at all. What fun.
Jeezuz. Fuck.

I was at DTMFA before I got half way through the second paragraph of this train wreck. And it just got worse from there.

It saddens me that people can be so blinded by their own love, devotion, and delusions to recognized when they've hitched themselves to a complete asshole.
It's not what you mean, it's what you do. He could be a sweet guy at heart, but if what he does most of the time now is act like an asshole, he's a- wait for it- asshole. If you have to dance the rain dance while juggling torches in order for him to act right, it's time to find someone a lot less difficult.
Hey, read @47.
This letter writer has clearly left out the details about her addiction to crack because unless you were on crack how could you miss all the red flags that should tell anyone with a functioning brain to DTMFA.
@2, 16, and so many others. Incredibly insightful comments. I've had some hard lessons in how I need to treat my partners because they were not going to put up with my shit a second longer. It ultimately made me a better man. But I was willing to change. Maybe this guy will too, but the price is not high enough for him yet.

@38 AA was more dangerous to my sobriety than just learning how to deal with life on my own terms instead of just reacting to what happened to me. Funny how when I quit going to AA, I quit getting drunk. It's been over 2 decades. Imagine that. AA is not the fucking cure-all you think it is and if Dan questions their effectiveness, I can attest from personal experience that it is with damn good cause.

PS that post script looks like it might have been written by the boyfriend.
Why do I get the feeling that this girl has not had a single class in gender studies?

THIS IS SO (pardon me) GIRL. I'm trying to mean that in the nicest way possible.

She was not raised to believe that she deserves better, right? She's got that thing in her head that says a shit man is better than no man at all, right? She makes all kinds of excuses for him -- including blaming herself for the relationship problems -- because of all that, right?


She does NOT owe it to him to fix their sex life. She needs to find someone else to develop a sex life with, maybe even someone who is interested in understanding -- and, perhaps, even sympathizing with and adapting to -- what's going on with her body that complicates things.


Hawke @52, I hear you, but lighten up.

Some of the core ideals of AA make me cringe. In particular the mantra about accepting a higher power (a feel-good way of telling you to accept god). If I had an addiction problem, I'm pretty sure AA wouldn't work for me, either.

That said, the AA model has a very high success rate compared to other drug treatment methods. It may not work for you or me, and it is fair to criticize it. But on average, statistically, it does work for a lot of people. So despite my misgivings, I'm not going to knock it.

@38, on the other hand, is too much of a fanboy. AA works well for a lot of people, but only if it is voluntary. The success rate when addicts are compelled to go—by well meaning friends or relatives or judges—drops way off. There is little point in Dan recommending AA in this case. The LW is too messed up herself to be in any position to effectively intervene in the BF's sobriety. The BF clearly doesn't recognize he has a problem, and is not ready for AA. One of the first steps in most of these programs is recognizing you have a problem in the first place.

Dan gave the right answer. DTMFA, and the sooner the better.
Dump da Motherfuckah Alreadee, yes...and please seek some counseling for yourself.
Mental illness is not an excuse to act like an asshole to somebody.
(he`s only like that when he (drinks) all the time)
What everyone said. Dump him. Dump him NOW. He's a fucking douche.
This is one of the few times I actually had such a strong mental reaction that I didn't even bother finishing the letter.

This guy is an asshole. But not everybody can be an asshole 24/7 and what you're mistaking for good points are simply times he's tired of being an asshole. LW, you are too young to let this drunk piece shit fuck your head up for life. DTMFA
Wow. Didn't need to read further than the first paragraph to reach DTMFA conclusion. You're less than half his age, and in your early 20's? And he treats you like garbage because he's a drunk? Grow a damn spine and leave already.

For the sake of getting the whole story though, I kept reading. And was further convinced I was right to begin with.

And when I got to the horseshit in the P.S., describing alcoholism as a "mental illness," my head exploded.
As the son of an alcoholic - DTMFA!!!! Ffs. He is doing the typical alcoholic blame game shit with you, trying to justify his own dependency by some dumping the reason for it outside of his own control and in the same time use it to manipulate you.

... and for anyone upset that Dan used "the sadz". FU. I don't give a good god damn if someone piss on an alcoholics sense of pride when he or she self-medicates. It may be a depression but its also yet another reason to drink, which makes you even more depressed and now you have another reason to drink.
He has the boo-hoo-whiny-little-boy-sadz and nothing else until he find a therapist and stop using his sadz to give himself allowance to drink more and abuse and manipulate the people around him.

An alcoholic is a person without control over his own drugabuse and should be treated with the same attitude as any other drug addict. You don't go "oh poor depressed heroin-addict, here take some more oh and your girlfriend should take the brunt of your manipulation and cruelties while at it". Fuck that.

DTMFA and do it telling him full and well that it is his alcoholism and emotional abuse that drove you away and if he starts crying or having a fit then smile happily while you walk out the door. You did good.
I just had to quote this from @23:

"Not hitting your partner is like not shitting in the living room - it's the minimum expected standard of behavior in civilized society. No one (except maybe a three year old) is proud of the fact that they refrain from pooping in the living room. And no one should be proud of not hitting their partner, or think of it as a selling point."

This is the truest thing on a thread full of true things.

Girl, you have to DTMFA, if only because he has you to the point where you are like "at least he isn't hitting me I guess?" Not cool. You deserve more. Don't trot out an anxiety disorder diagnosis or a slightly complicated vag as reasons why you have to tolerate this guy's BS. In fact if he has ever compared his meanness or drinking habits to either of your slight issues, DTMFA and then kick him in the dick.
Jesus Christ, is it narcissistic personality disorder week on Savage Love?
AL-ANON. That is all.
@30 Depression can also manifest as irritability and mild to moderate fatigue. But it also comes with an awareness that you're being an asshole and a desire to avoid things that make you worse.

So the boyfriend's continued drinking means (everybody now!):

That old Beatles tune "All you need is Love" has lead a lot of people right over the cliff. Yes, you need love, but you need more than love. You need respect. You need cooperation. You need all the emotional "trace minerals". Love is not enough.
Also, us here on this board telling you what to do, judging you even...we don't know what we're talking about. Well maybe we do but it's just not that easy is it? It's not that easy to DTMFA. What you might like about Al-Anon is that no one will tell you what to do. That's such a drag. Instead you'll have the pleasure of hanging out with truly awesome people who have similar life experiences to yours. They've dated, married, or were related to alcoholics. Many of them are still in the relationships and some of those relationships have grown strong and healthy. If you decide to try it go to 5 meetings minimum. And if there's something you hear during a meeting that you don't like just ignore it, everyone else does. In time, if you want to, you will begin to figure out what's best for you. It might be staying. It might be leaving. How the hell do we know? We don't even have our own lives figured out. So far you're doing great.
LW is so much into avoidance that she's writing to Dan to come up with more excuses to NOT DTMFA. LW, really, figure out why you are drawn to someone like this in the first place - get some counseling.
A lot of us — me included — will fall in love with someone if we have sex with them twice. In Alison Bechdel’s words, “I’m not like you, Lois. If I have sex I fall in love. It’s a genetic defect.”

If you know this about yourself (and I think now you do) then you will need to be careful about who you have sex with in the future. It will never be “just sex.” Before you start kissing someone, think objectively about whether would recommend them enthusiastically to someone you cared about. If they are not someone your best friend would be smart to fall in love with, keep your pants on and keep looking.

Also, we all have defects. We are responsible for managing our own defects so that we can function at a reasonable level. If someone is not able to do that then they are not in basic working order and are not relationship material.

My beloved and I work things out, for instance. When he’s being a selfish, mean, controlling asshole I tell him that he can’t do that around me and he has to leave. The first couple of times I had to have a huge fit and break things to make my point, but by now we’ve settled into a rhythm. I tell him he’s being a dick. He takes my point and spends the day watching movies at the cinema. He comes home and if he’s still feeling like a dick he sleeps in the guest bed. It’s usually ok in the morning. A few times I’ve rented a room in a B&B for a few days and then we’ve talked rationally about which of us should stay in it.

It’s not that nobody is allowed to be a dick. It’s that they aren’t entitled to impose their dickishness on other people.
All you need is love.
@54: AA refuses to release any statistics regarding its efficacy, so I am unsure how you came to the conclusion it has a "high" success rate when compared to other treatment methods. If there is some study or survey I have not seen, please post a link.

From what it is possible to glean from AA's membership and retention, it appears that AA works for about 5% of alcoholics, 8%-12% if you are willing to be very generous and only count people who have been sober for one year in the program. The rate of addicts who are able to stop for a year without any program? About the same.

It is admittedly difficult to really analyze and even gather statistics for this kind of thing, but I have seen absolutely no evidence that AA works better than any other program, or even lack of a specific program.

As to the letter, nothing will get better until he gets his addiction under control. Nothing. It is impossible. The best thing you can do for him is to give him the consequence of losing you if he chooses alcoholism. The best thing you can do for you is to dump him, at least until he gets his alcoholism under control.
Absolute 100% textbook example of abusive behavior.

Step 1: Do terrible things to your partner
Step 2: Convince your partner that the terrible things you're doing are her fault
Step 3: When she does what you want be nice for a bit
Step 4: Do terrible things to your partner
Step 5: Convince your partner that the terrible things are due to another thing you want her to change and that she just needs to think about step 3 and how much better it is when she does things that let him do step 3.
Step 6: Profit

I don't think Dan went far enough. DTMFA and immediately block his phone number and email address. Unfriend him on Facebook and avoid all contact. I've seem far too many friends go back to these sorts of shitheads when they get back in touch and convince them that it's all going to be step 3 forever and ever.

Vag, someone with social anxiety disorder should not be spending her time with an emotionally abusive alcoholic. That will only compound your problems.
I must not have that defect as I've had sex with a number of people more than twice that I never fell in love with. In fact, the vast majority of people I've had sex with more than twice I never fell in love with. Most of them never fell in love with me either. I think your "defect" is less prevalent than you think.

BTW, your description of our relationship sounds terrible. I'm glad you've found a rhythm for dealing with your partner's dickishness but maybe you should consider finding someone who's less of a dick.
Very awesome advice from many commenters. Once the dumping is done, perhaps the LW could look at how she could try to make single life more enjoyable, so that she doesn't feel being with an asshole is an improvement.

I identify with the feeling that you'll never meet somebody better, so you have to put up what you've got. But it is your Jerkbrain lying to you.

Unless someone is good to you at least 90% of the time without you having to hurt yourself, get out. If you don't know what this feels like, get out. Enjoy spending time with yourself, until you happen upon somebody who treats you that way.
LW, yes, you need to DTMFA. Find someone -- best friend, sister, mom, whatever, who will support you in this. Dumping someone you love is hard enough without all of this other bullshit. Get some support, get some tissues, and dump this guy.

He's never been physically violent. I have never heard anyone say those words unless it's surrounded by descriptions of emotional violence. Of course he's lovely and sweet and the sex is good SOMETIMES. All abusers have their lovely qualities and the good times. This is how they hold you hostage. He is holding you hostage by being sweet occasionally and blaming you for his drinking.

She is way to much work. He should dump her.
@73 — If you don’t have the defect, then you don’t have it no matter how many people you have sex with. So your “vast” sampling is the same as “I’ve had sex with one person and didn’t fall in love.” Anecdatum of one.

“Most of them didn’t fall in love with me either.” What’s “most” — 80%? Meaning that up to 20% of your self-selected sample do have the defect. A not-insignificant minority, even if we assume that the sexual partners of someone who has enough lifetime partners that they speak in terms of vastness are a representative sample of the general population.

I suspect the defect is more common in women, though I know it occurs in both sexes and haven’t done a survey. I do know that it’s common enough that it’s worth being aware of the possibility in advance and that there are people who take precautions against this eventuality. For instance, I know guys who have an absolute rule against women spending the night, because if you let them do that they’ll just fall in love and ruin everything. I know other guys who will have explicit conversations along these lines. “Of course I can have sex with you if you’d like. But since I’ve had over 2,000 sexual partners it’s likely to mean a lot more to you than it will to me, so it might not be a good idea.”
For the LW, it probably feels like kindness to stay with this guy, or maybe a laudable commitment to the relationship. It isn't kindness, and it's the wrong kind of commitment. It's not only okay, but actually good to put space between you and anyone who treats you poorly. I spent years learning this--please feel free to take the shortcut this thread is offering you.

Taking a break is the best thing you can do for both of you. Tell him you'll need a six-month sobriety chip and a recommendation from his sponsor before you'll consider dating him again. There are much, much better dating partners out there, and you will find them, and they will be thrilled to spend time loving your body.
"P.S. You might be thinking something along the lines of "DTMFA." I hope that won't be your advice for me, because I am not yet willing to dump him."

Well, obviously then the solution is to dump the alcoholic and get with the sweet guy you're dating.

Oh wait, they're the same person? Dump him.
@53: "Why do I get the feeling that this girl has not had a single class in gender studies?

No gender or orientation is immune to being this naive/stubborn, especially when dealing with a manipulator.

@69: "A lot of us — me included — will fall in love with someone if we have sex with them twice."

Well, it helps if you're in love with being in love. I don't know why you state that like it's a foregone conclusion, being attracted to harmful people is common, these persons are certainly charismatic. But you're not doomed/damned, you have some control over yourself when you (eventually) see the red flags.

@71: AA is simply a less harmful hobby that necessarily doesn't involve booze. I agree that no actual statistics make it impossible to offer as "effective" because the only "evidence" is people stating anecdotes like "It works because I know it works". It's a shame, it'd be nice to compare it to cold turkey or Rational Recovery or any of the other options not set up to be revival-style confessionals.

@73: Sounds more like a containment strategy.
I would like to refer the LW to the term Darth Vader Boyfriend, coined by Captain Awkward.…

I quote:

“Luke, your dad is totally evil.”
“There’s good in him. I’ve felt it.”
“Luke, he blew up a planet just to make a point.”
“There’s good in him! I’ve felt it!”
“Luke, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he severed your hand. From your arm. He cut it off.”
“Dueling to the death is just how we relate. You wouldn’t understand it. Now that we both have prosthetic robot limbs, it’s only brought us closer together.”
“Luke, he lured your friends into a trap so that he could murder them in front of you. We had to be rescued by Ewoks. It was embarrassing.”
“Yeah, that was pretty bad, I admit! But there’s good in him! I’ve felt it!”

And then Luke is risking his own life to carry Darth Vader out of the Death Star before it explodes so he can look up on that swollen purple face and experience one shining moment of real connection that would justify everything he’s invested in this completely dysfunctional relationship and he’s like “See? IT WAS ALL TOTALLY WORTH IT!”
"Should I stay with this manipulative, rapey, emotionally abusive tool?"


"awww why not?"

Seriously, run LW. Run fast and far.
This is not a relationship. This is a co dependant hostage situation.

I am a sober recovering alcoholic. I go to meetings I work the steps. I haven't touched a drink or an illegal drug in almost two years.

When I was in my active alcoholism I was completely incapable of being in a relationship. So is this man. He needs to go to a detox, then a treatment program and then to meetings. He needs to stay sober, find a sponsor and work the steps. That is the only way he will get better. He is not a bad person, he is just very very sick right now.

Regardless of what he does, YOU, Letter Writer, need to detach from the situation. You may find it a very good idea to attend some AL ANON meetings in your city. They are very helpful for those in your situation.

We cannot save people from themselves. We can only love them. And sometimes loving them means detaching from the situation and leaving for a while. Sometimes a good long while. Staying in this relationship will not make the situation any better. He will stay sick and so will you.

So leave. Alcoholism is a family disease. It touches everyone. It is like a dark cloud that settles on everything. If he doesn't get the help he will never get better. He will probably die, or go crazy, or go crazy and die. The options and outlook are not good.

Regardless you need to look out for you first. Get to Al Anon and get away from him. For now at least.

To the AA knockers. Please be quiet. You have no idea what you are talking about. AA saved my life and it could save his too.

Thank you.
It saved your life. That doesn't mean it would save his.
VAG, I feel really worried for you right now. The sentence that leapt out at me the most: "He is not a horrible person; he just has a mental illness (alcoholism), and he has been trying so hard to get better, but it is difficult for him."

What is he doing to try to get better? Is he in counseling for addition? For depression? Does he go to AA or another support group? Is he having an ongoing, active conversation with his physician about these health issues? Or is he just telling you, "I'm trying SO HARD, but it's difficult"? Because if it's the latter... actions speak louder than words. He might be a great guy if he weren't an alcoholic. But right now, he *is* an alcoholic, and an active one.

Imagine if you were dating a werewolf. 27 days of the month, he is sweet and kind, but on the full moon he turns into a monster and lashes out at everything around him. Imagine there are some treatments for werewolfism... but he's not pursuing them. He doesn't take precautions to keep you from having to interact with him when he's a wolf. Instead, he tells you how very hard it is to be a werewolf, and rages around frightening you during the full moons, and tells you that if only you did something differently maybe he wouldn't turn into a wolf.

It wouldn't matter if he was nice to you the other 27 days. That one day a month would be a dealbreaker. In fact, he'd be showing you that he isn't actually all that perfect when he's not a wolf - because he's not doing anything then to protect you from the monster he sometimes is.

Run, VAG. Run.
@ 85.
I said it could save his life, not that it would. What's your point exactly?
This letter could have been written by my younger self.

VAG- Get out, save yourself. This is abuse. Your anxiety will only get worse if you stay. You may love him so much it hurts, but what he's giving back to you isn't love. You deserve (and will someday have) SO MUCH MORE.

It gets better.
No gender or orientation is immune to being this naive/stubborn, especially when dealing with a manipulator.

Indeed, and people of low self-esteem of both genders tend to be the victims of manipulators and also enablers. If she's already in "therapy" for the Anxiety Disorder (and no, this does not make her "broken"), then she should consider that she may be contributing to a bad dynamic and needs to change the behavior.

I've been around drunks (extended fam) and plenty of 12 steppers - I'm not a fan of either (IMHO, 12-stepping is replacing one kind of compulsive behavior driven by rigid thinking with another, less harmful one). However, whatever works for her - Al-Anon or individual counseling - or AA for her BF, doesn't matter: if it works.

I think of 12-step programs as being analogous to methadone: you're still an addict, just addicted to a less damaging substance. The most well adjusted alcoholics I know are people who eventually moved beyond 12-stepping. Well, those and the 5 o'clock drunks who managed to not be abusive or suffer any "problems".
AFinch. 12 step meetings are not like being on methadone at all. You are sober. Not on methadone.

I know what I'm talking about I go to AA meetings. Do you?

If you do great, if you don't...why do you insist on speaking about a subject matter when you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about?
AUGH WHY does she think it's so important to accommodate his "mental illness" when he does nothing to accommodate hers?

WHY does she want so much to meet his sexual needs when he has not interest in meeting hers?

Okay, not WHY. I know why. It just pisses me off.
Summary of letter - "My cancer is PERFECT in every way, except that it's killing me."

Savage Love rule of thumb - the longer the letter the shorter the needed answer. Usually DTMFA.
I have a powerful intuition that this was ghostwritten by the boyfriend.

If I am correct, then I would like to address the writer man to man: you are about to ruin this girl's life. You will be known as the ruiner of her life. You will be marked like Cain and you will never be completely redeemed. If these comments are any indication, then that process has already started, so you don't have much time. If you care at all for her or yourself, get as far away from her as you can, immediately. Sort your shit out - elsewhere - and start over with someone more appropriate for you.

On the off chance that this letter was actually written by VAG herself, then miss, you're probably sick of hearing DTMFA by now. Allow me to offer an alternative interpretation: game it out. You love him and presumably want to be with him forever - OK. What's your relationship with this man going to look like at your first corporate dinner? At your wedding? In front of your kids' teachers?

You have social anxiety, so you know how it is to feel like people are watching and judging you. This man will guarantee that actually happens. Mere proximity to him will strangle your career, cast a permanent pall on your social life, and exacerbate your condition.

If you decide to grit your teeth now, then you will find it easier to grit your teeth as the years go by. Someday, probably sooner rather than later, you WILL find yourself tied to this albatross by law and convention. At that time, you will be completely and irrevocably fucked. No amount of lawyers or second chances will repair the damage he will do to you. Save yourself. I hope you already have done so.
@81: That was awesome and funny (and true) and thanks for linking to it.

There's really nothing that can't be made better with a Star Wars analogy.
I have a powerful intuition that this was ghostwritten by the boyfriend.

If I am correct, then I would like to address the writer man to man: you are about to ruin this girl's life. You will be known as the ruiner of her life. You will be marked like Cain and you will never be completely redeemed. If these comments are any indication, then that process has already started, so you don't have much time. If you care at all for her or yourself, get as far away from her as you can, immediately. Sort your shit out - elsewhere - and start over with someone more appropriate for you.

On the off chance that this letter was actually written by VAG herself, then miss, you're probably sick of hearing DTMFA by now. Allow me to offer an alternative interpretation: game it out. You love him and presumably want to be with him forever - OK. What's your relationship with this man going to look like at your first corporate dinner? At your wedding? In front of your kids' teachers?

You have social anxiety, so you know how it is to feel like people are watching and judging you. This man will guarantee that actually happens. Mere proximity to him will strangle your career, cast a permanent pall on your social life, and exacerbate your anxiety.

You will be able to get used to this if you put your mind to it, and someday, probably sooner rather than later, you WILL find yourself tied to this albatross by law and convention. At that time, you will be completely and irrevocably fucked. No amount of lawyers or second chances will repair the damage he will do to you. Save yourself. I hope you already have done so.
Wow, I was going DTMFA about of a fifth of the way through this letter. And then there was more. And more. This is the Mt. Washington of toxic relationship letters. You think you're near the summit, and BWA HA HA there's six hundred more feet to go. OH HA HA HA three hundred more!

Dump this guy. 1. He blames you for the bad parts of your shared sex life. 2. He's taking advantage of your youth and naivete. 3. He's a drunk and you didn't once mention that he's in a program. 4. Dumping him and telling him that his drinking had something to do with it might might MIGHT inspire him to get into a program.

And no it's not the same as having anxiety disorder. Your brain has to live with you, but many have proven that it is physically possible to keep alcohol out of the house.
He is not a good boyfriend for you. He is not a good boyfriend for anyone. Having painful sex you don't want to have will make your vaginismus worse. Booze =/= asshole, booze = less ability to fake being nice. If he's nice when he's relatively sober (never actually sober unless you are seeing him DT), but mean when he's drunk? He's a mean guy who is good at manipulating you. The half his age girl with the anxiety disorder and low self esteem he picked out as a great crutch/sex hole to help him out with his "I need to yell at someone who will cower/fuck anything warm even if it's in pain when I do it". This is not a relationship, this is alcoholism. That said, you want to help the guy? Go to AlAnon and learn how to support a drunk for real, rather than enabling his illness and making him sicker, which is what you are doing now. You don't mention that he's in treatment for his mental illness. I'm guessing he's not. You should get some treatment for yours. Bring this letter. You getting better = better life for him too, no? If that's not the case, it truly is an abusive relationship. Since he's using his dick to hurt you on purpose, I'm guessing it already is.
I feel somewhat compelled to share a bit being an alcoholic with anxiety issues in a relationship with a wonderful woman who also has issues with anxiety.

Alcoholism isn't very well understood, from a psychological standpoint. It describes a range of behaviors and relationships to alcohol (and often other drugs) that can become very, very difficult to parse because alcohol itself creates divergent brain patterns and activity which exasperate often already problematic behaviors.

For example, my own drinking is rather limited in volume (but, unfortunately not frequency) at this point in my life. I'll have, usually, 2-4 drinks when I get home from work. Sometimes more and sometimes less (sometimes zero). That's down from a decade ago when I would routinely have 10+ drinks a night. While the volume of my intake was the face of my problem then, through a decade of off-and-on sobriety (I spent six months to a year abstinent on a number of different occasions) I feel like I understand that my desire to drink is a desire to self-medicate my own anxiety and/or depression.

Of course there are alcoholics who start at 8am and don't stop until the pass out that night. There are alcoholics who drink "responsibly" but with alarming frequency. The core is often that long-term patterns of alcohol use are often a symptom, not the "disease" itself (and alcoholism isn't a "mental illness" or a "disease" in any clinical sense-- often it is a piss-poor attempt to solve problems in the short term which cause larger and larger issues down the road).

There are a thousand reasons in the letter that really strike me as problems without even beginning to look at the alcohol component. Not to suggest it isn't a problem, because it is, but that even if this guy were to quit drinking 100% forever tomorrow, you'd probably see a host of previously-masked-by-self-medication issues pop up. I wasn't really able to truly address a lot of my anxiety until I addressed it in a more sober life-setting. And when the anxiety went untreated and unaddressed, my mind always reached for the bottle to quiet the underlying problems.

In all honesty, this guy needs a therapist at the least. I think that there is plenty in there other than the alcoholism to point to the direction that this isn't healthy for either of them. Thankfully, the LW can at least address their own side without necessitating getting involved in someone else's probably huge, huge issues.
@91: "AUGH WHY does she think it's so important to accommodate his "mental illness" when he does nothing to accommodate hers?"

Because he's not capable of accommodating someone else's needs and wants?

@95: Not directly ghostwritten, I don't think, unless you count sheer force of will.

" I would like to address the writer man to man: you are about to ruin this girl's life. You will be known as the ruiner of her life."

Do you really think "man to man" means anything to him? "Mind your beeswax", "you don't know what's going on here", blah blah blah, why would you even bother trying to appeal to them?
Ask anyone—ANYONE—in a relationship with an alcoholic, and they will tell you about all their regrets, if only they knew then what they know now, etc. I guarantee you will look back on this time and wish you had run, run, run.

If he really loved you, as in cared about you as a valid human being, he would sober up. If you choose to stay with him, you really, really, need to join Al-Anon. I wish you luck.
Hun, you're as addicted to stress and anxiety as he is to his bottle. DTMFA and create a more loving and safe space in your life.
AFinch. 12 step meetings are not like being on methadone at all. You are sober. Not on methadone.

Sure, you're not under the influence of a chemical, but of groupthink instead.

I know what I'm talking about I go to AA meetings. Do you?

I don't - I'm not a drunk. I have, however, had the pleasure of growing up with a couple of them and having a step-child who's part of team NA.

Whatever works for you is good. It is not the only one and true way to think now and forever, thanks be to the higher power amen.


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