Columns Nov 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

Cruel Intentions


OAU-- "I can't imagine what would make him do say such things. He must not have much going on in his own life to want to spend that much time thinking about mine, but I guess I don't want to delve too much into the psychology of people who do those sorts of things. It is rather creepy. I'd rather not think about it. Are you looking forward to anything fun for the holidays? I've always like my grandmother's ginger cookies."
Wait a minute. Your partner is 'arranging' for you to smoke weed with a neighbor you don't get along with? Does he cut up your meat for you too?

He drinks 'constantly and a lot' on top of having 'issues of abuse and abandonment.' Abuse and Ab'ing by whom? And, LACKING, you, slapped, him. Check out how many passive voice evasions you've used. It might not have been an earth-shattering crime on your part, but nobody else did it.
LACKING-- Sure there's a way to prove your regret and ability to change. Stay at your mother's, or get your own place. Stop seeing this guy. That way you'll change from a 20 year old living with and in love with a 30 year alcoholic to one who's finding her own way in the world and meeting great guys she doesn't argue with so much.

Seriously-- Take Dan's advice and get some counseling on your own. Recall that the sort of intense love you feel despite all the danger signs about that relationship is normal. It does take a while for those feelings to fade to a more manageable level, but it does happen. Good luck.
One slap at age 20β€”one that was instantly regretted, one that the slapper has taken full responsibility for (no bullshit claims that the slappee provoked you)β€”does not a lifelong abuser make.

True enough -- but she needs anger management counseling anyway. And if she were a man, there's a decent enough chance she would have ended up in court / jail / labeled an abuser for life.
"We got in a screaming match."

Things had already gotten way out of hand at this point. Adults should not scream at each other or at children. You both need anger-management therapy.
What is it with people who've been together a relatively short time and don't have commitments like marriages and kids going to couples' counselling? It seems to come up a lot in this column. Although I'm sure your couples counsellor appreciates your business, if you are in a situation like LACKING (alcoholic loser+anger issues+lots of fighting) it is probably time to break the fuck up.

"...him arranging for me to go hang out with our downstairs smoke weed with her."
I'm trying to figure out a way that it might make sense for an adult to say this, and I'm coming up with nothing.
If I read the letter's timeline correctly, LACKING and her boyfriend moved in together after dating for 3 months and she was 19 at the time.

This by itself should be a red flag.
@7 I was going to say something like that too, but I have made similar comments on SLOG a number of times and feel a bit like a broken record. To a 19- or 20-year-old it seems like being with someone a decade older than you means you're cool and mature. I know because I was that person once. I didn't realize until later that what it really meant was that the person I was with was immature and couldn't find anyone his own age who would tolerate his bullshit.
@7 Now that I think of it, were you commenting more on the quick cohabitation than the age difference? I agree that moving in after 3 months can be a red flag, but honestly I see that happening more and more, and I think it's mainly a symptom of increasingly unaffordable rent.
@Sea Otter, I was thinking about both those things.
When I was 19 I fell in love with a 32 year-old. He seemed so mature. Later, of course I realized that he dated teenagers because by the time a woman turned 21 she was sophisticated enough to see through his bullshit.

But I also have to think that economics aside, moving in with someone you've known only 3 months, when you are 19 and the other person is 29 or thereabouts is a bad idea. What do you know about someone after 3 months? How good are you at making important decisions at 19?

Put those things together and there's little likelihood that everything's going to turn out rosy.
He is hoping that if you get stoned with the downstairs neighbor, it could turn into a three way. He may be sleeping with her already, but if not he wants to.
The Lovecast Christmas link at the end of the column is broken, because the exclamation point is being erroneously treated as part of it. If you cut off the mark, it works.
I've seem some shameful shit from some disturbed women, but none of them ever hit me in the face.
@7, 10: Geez, I really am bad at math. Okay, so LACKING and her bf had been dating 5 months when they moved in together, rather than 3 because what do you know, a year is 12 months, not 10!

Still . . .
@nocutename: This by itself should be a red flag.

She hits him in the face, and their age difference is your red flag?

Heterosexuality is a fucking mess.
Wow letter #2 sounds like me and my ex, except reverse the genders. I (male) was older than her, smoked weed and had self esteem issues. She had abandonment issues and drank too much.

Long story short, it isn't going to work out.
@seandr: The red flag of their age difference and the rush to cohabitation happened--both in life and in the letter--before the slap. Hence the red flag, meaning "warning: danger ahead." Which was proven accurate by her later--in life and in the letter--hitting him in the face.
Chronology: see how it works?
Ms Cute - I'll give you your excuse this time - you were just indulging in some astral travel in ancient Rome before the calendar added July and August.

I suspect dodgy editing on the letter to see what people will assume, or perhaps we need to cross-examine the pair on their relative sizes and strengths, as well as what constitutes a "LOT" of drinking (as a non-drinker with an alcoholic mother, I'm sure at twenty I thought two drinks a day more than sufficient) and their relative dating histories. It took my parents ten years to divorce after my mother broke a platter on my father's head, which inclines me to approve of the victim's asking her to leave, whatever his drinking/dating habits might be (for all we know at this point, maybe he'd been dating cougars for the past decade).

I'll add a "Yet." to the end of Mr Savage's opinion and rest there on the information provided thus far.
She fucked up by slapping him, there's no excuse for violence with a partner. I have to agree with others though that an alcoholic 30 year old with (other) issues who moves in with a fucking teenager when they barely know each other is not a good investment. Follow Dan's advice and get therapy. Before you do that, pack your shit and move out. Don't bother with couples' counseling, train wrecks can't be salvaged, just let it go and focus on yourself for now.
Aren't real men supposed to just take it when a woman slaps them? Perhaps I'm watching too many old films.
@5, Ms Erica is right. Mature people don't scream at each other. Besides the age difference and substance abuse, couples counseling within a year is the red flag. The first year should be honeymoon. Hell, so should the second year. What, exactly, is worth salvaging here?

Everyone has issues, and helping each other work through them is great. But anger and low self esteem are a volitable combination. I know, I lived with someone with that combo. And he needs to dial back the booze and grow up.

Dans right, move along, they get help but not together and she should fix herself before starting again.
In LACKING's letter like no other, the alarms started going off that I needed to ask how it would sound if it were a man who'd slapped a woman-- or 2 women, or 2 men. I absolutely understand why LACKING would be wondering if she's an abuser-- especially since it sounds so much like a classic case: the hit, the rationalizations, the I-was-provoked, the protestations of being sorry, the begging to be given another chance. All that's missing is the expensive gift.

After some thought, I decided that it hardly matters. Yes, it does sound classic which means that the right thing for person who's been hit to do is to break up the relationship and for both to get counseling.

I completely get it that people often feel a compelling need to place blame. Everyone loves to feel like the victim (until that moment when they don't). We can argue all day if they should break up because he's an alcoholic or if they should break up because she slapped him or if they should break up because of the age differential, or maybe because they argue so much. See how much fun this is? It's as though if you decide they should break up because of his drinking that you're excusing the violence as okay, but nope, I don't think any of us are saying that. The point is that they should break up.

Let me go over some common misconceptions of 20 year old young women:

This love is so intense, there's nothing else like it, I could never feel this way about anyone else, it's wonderful, it's special, omg, omg, the world will collapse if we break up, anything that happens to screw this up is an absolute calamity, and I'll never recover, not ever, not in a million years.

Okay, LACKING, maybe you didn't put it in those exact words, but those are the emotions that come screaming through in your letter. I don't mean to make fun because I actually have a lot of sympathy for you. I think I'm still hung up on my first love of 35 years ago despite being in a much better relationship for the last 25 of them. Outside of the love, can you name what's good about your relationship? Can you think of any of the hallmarks of a mature relationship? Things like shared goals, good communication, good conflict resolution, an ability to compromise and help each other become the best version of yourselves? Nope, didn't think so. I didn't have any of those things in my early intense relationship either, but gosh golly, he was good looking and fun.
OAU - I just want to add my sympathies to you. I've always prepared myself mentally for the day I accidentally click "post to Facebook" on some weird porn I'm watching, or send a dick pic to the wrong person, but that's nothing compared to what you're going through. Whoever did that is a real piece of the lowest grade shit and I hope they get the worst that's coming to them. Good luck and please press charges.
OAS-- You ask how to talk to other friends when you see them and how to approach the situation without making it more uncomfortable.

I'm going to suggest that you start by not bringing it up.

If I got a link to a web page from someone I didn't know or only knew peripherally, I wouldn't click on the link. Begin by assuming that some number of your friends have done that. If someone did something more aggressive like sending pics and info straight to my inbox, I'd glance over it, and as soon as I realized it was pornographic or private in nature, I'd delete it. More importantly, I'D ASSUME THAT IT WASN'T TRUE. Really, even in my sex-obsessed younger days, I wouldn't have been interested in that sort of thing.

I know this isn't necessarily comforting, but really, this evil person may have done considerably less evil than you think at first.

In one sense, that's great news. On the other hand, I just read the wikipedia page on laws pertaining to revenge porn, and from what I can tell, getting some sort of retribution from the evil doer looks to me like more trouble than it's worth. To sue someone, you have to prove damages, and I'm going to suggest that the damage isn't great.
"About a week ago, we got into a yelling match over his drinking (it's constant and a LOT) and over him arranging for me to go hang out with our downstairs neighbor (my interactions with the neighbor have not been positive due to parking issues) to smoke weed with her."

What the hell?
Did anybody else get stuck on this part?
Boyfriend: Go downstairs and hang out with Gloria.
Lacking [whiny kid voice]: I don' WANNA hang out with Gloria! I don' LIKE her!
Boyfriend: Lacking, we discussed this. Now go!
Lacking: But I don' LIKE her! She parks in my parking space alla time!
Boyfriend: Young Lady, you do as you're told! Now, you GO downstairs, and you hang out with Gloria, and you WILL smoke weed with her! I don't want to hear any more back talk!
@5 I would disagree significantly. I used to avoid argument of any kind but relating to my wife has taught me that we get along much better if the anger and resentment inherent in being with someone for several decades is occasionally vented in a good fight. And yes, that can include raised voices.

It's even kind of part of our mild BDSM now. If your SO wants to be hate-fucked now and then and you both get orgasms and loving cuddles afterwards.. there is no reason to cast that into a disease that needs to be cured.
OAU -- Dig all Dan's advice. Also am reminded of a quotation from Othello, 'The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.'

Like Dan said, you don't have anything to apologize for or be ashamed of. Don't act like it's something to be embarrassed by when/if confronted by people wanting to talk about it. Because it's not.
OAU: My deepest heartfelt sympathies to you, too. Press full legal charges on that POS and I hope you win your case---NOBODY deserves shit like what you have been going through. I hope everything works out for the better for you, and soon.

@10 & @17 nocutename re LACKING: Bingo! I already saw numerous glaring red flags, too, and stopped reading by the fourth sentence. Abuse and excess baggage carried around are both ugly, and can--and unfortunately, do--go both ways. I guess that's why I'm focusing more on taking care of myself and my loved ones around me who are positive and mutually supportive.

@19 jujubee80: Agreed. I hope that LACKING lets go of her abusive boyfriend ten years her senior, walks away from her train wreck, learns from this experience, hopefully doesn't make the same mistake twice, and doesn't look back.
@28 I agree so very much. Well said.
OAU, that someone took the time to create a website to send to people you know says a lot more about him than it does about you. I agree that you don't bring it up unless someone mentions it, and if they do, well, you can't imagine why someone would do such a thing. And if you can, file charges on the guy.

As for you, LACKING, you may be an abuser, you may not. But I imagine that anyone second-guessing himself/herself probably isn't.

Still, you need to get out of this relationship pronto. You don't move in with someone you've only known a few months. And grown men dating teenagers is another red flag. The fact that he drinks a lot is also very concerning. And how on earth is he pushing you to spend time with the neighbor you don't like and smoke pot with her? You're a grown-up, right? He can't make you hang out with someone you don't like.

I also don't see a lot of love here, just a whole lot of dysfunction. Both of you need to go to therapy separately and get your heads screwed on right and then you need to date other people.
@28 drjones and @31 choasgirl: Yes, but neither of you mentions angrily hitting your SO in the face, and your relationships sound different (i.e.: mutually agreed upon BDSM and other kinks) from LACKING's unhealthy situation with her boyfriend.

Excellent advice to both OAU and LACKING, Dan, and Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
At your age you need to live on your own, pay your own bills, get a sense of yourself, before shacking up with some one. Date, of course, but become yourself so that you bring more to the table when in a relationship. You don't want to be just a living reaction to someone else's life.
Your takeaway on Bill & Monica (you forgot her name?) was different from mine. Because while Bill sure as hell weathered the storm, Monica is STILL pilloried for it. Perhaps the reason that the public wasn't, as you put it, pissed at Bill, is that they took out all their rage on Monica (and continue to do so). You couldn't come up with a better example?!
I hope Dan's right about OAU's problem being a small one, but I can't share his confidence. It depends a lot on what the LW's kinks are, I think. Mild bondage? No big deal. Age play? Potential shitstorm, especially if he has kids, is close to people with kids, or does work involving kids. He mentions living in the South, which makes me think he has at least some folks in his life who are homophobic or otherwise intolerant of non-Fundy sexual practices.

As for practical advice, Dan was spot on, but I have something to add: see if you can get the company hosting the website to take it down.
@hunter78, I suggest you stop watching EastEnders and start watching Coronation Street, where people don't start drinking till 5pm, and then it's a pint of warm bitter and a plate of hot pot.

@OAU, this behaviour is exactly the kind of thing people get sued over and forced to take down.

@Lacking: if you don't think of yourself as an abuser, and the dynamic you have with someone else is twisting your normal behaviour so badly out of shape that you scream and hit them, it really is time to get out. There is no salvaging that dynamic - don't do what I did and stay with the guy for two years while things got worse and worse.
Is there such a thing as an uncomplicated relationship between two people? Was there ever?
When I was 19 I was a fucked up child still - some people aren't- and I got into totally inappropriate relationships with childish older men and we occasionally pushed or slapped each other. None of those relationships were worth saving and none of them lasted. Ten years later I had gotten my shit together and married a good man who had helped me change my jealous, tantrumy ways by not putting up with my shit and by keeping his cool when I did not. (@20 - yes, a real man DOES "just take it" when a hysterical girl slaps him - as opposed to flying off the handle and hitting her back, that is). We had thirteen slap-free years together until one drunken night we got in a bad fight and he shoved me against a sliding glass door. It was a big deal because im physically fragile and could have been seriously hurt. But instead of deciding that he or I was an irredeemable abuser who ought to be dropped like a rock, we took it as a clue to examine our drinking. People aren't perfect. People do dumb shit (especially when drunk) and if it isn't part of a pattern and there are good reasons to stay together and if bothpeople are willing to look at their part in the drama (notice I don't say just the one who lost their shit and pushed/slapped) then
Oops sorry posted before I finished ..... if all those conditions are met then people can choose to get over it. That shove was 4 years in the past own and I'm so glad I didn't leave or call the cops. That would probably have started a chain of events that would be insurmountable. He showed remorse, I showed remorse for my part (which is not the same as saying I deserved or provoked it) and we used the incident as motivation to change some.things that needed changing. That was in the context of a thirteen year marriage with three kids, not a less - than - one-year relationship with other big problems. Not saying they should stay together, just saying that not every incident of mild violence has to be relationship ending.
A Huge Red Flag in LACKING's letter was her line:

his drinking (it's constant and a LOT)

I would immediately say that's a deal breaker. Having grown up in an alcoholic family, and having watched it destroy so many marriages, I would say, "You're twenty, your whole life is in front of you, YOU WILL NEVER STOP HIS DRINKING, so Run, Run as fast and as far away from his as possible. For you have no idea of the life you are in for, if you stay with him."
Happy Thanksgiving you guys.
Dan, I hate to object to your response to OAU, because I'd love to agree, but... did people stand by Monica Lewinsky? Did her approval ratings soar? The president a) had established professional credibility, and b) was a man. He could be forgiven for sexual indiscretion. But Monica didn't have credibility or media presence before this event, and her name will forever be a punchline because of it.

I'm sure that OAU's reputation won't be ruined. I'm sure that as time passes, internet scandal will become less scandalous and reputation-ruining, so you're right to tell him not to worry too much. But your analogy overlooks key factors: we're much quicker to forgive straight white men than pretty much anyone else in any other category.
OAU - first, my sympathies. Second - your ex did his best to make you look bad, and made himself look like a POS in the process. Can you imagine how hard it will be for him to find anyone willing to sleep with him? Share intimate details with him? He's branded himself Someone Not Trustworthy. You'll weather this storm far better than he will. Keep your head up. :) Happy Thanksgiving.
"Our conflicts stem from issues of abuse and abandonment on his part and issues of poor self-esteem and anger on my part."

Ah, so poorly managed anger is a running theme for you.

"To cut to the chase: We got in a screaming match that resulted in me slapping him."

In other words, your anger got the better of you, just like it has all along. This may be the first time you actually physically struck him, but you have been using anger as a tactic to make your way in the world pretty much the whole time. Apparently, according to your own words, enough for it to be an issue between you two.

"I really didn't mean to."

Oh, yes you did. You absolutely did.

It just came out of my body,"

Bullshit. Bull fucking shit. Human physiology does not contain a slap reflex. Your arm did not move of its own accord. It didn't just happen. You CHOSE to hit him. The sooner you get clear on that bit of personal truth, the sooner you will be on your way to getting control of it.
#44 - I am so glad to see your comment.

I thought the exact same thing when I read Dan's reply. Monica Lewinsky sucked a dick in 1998 and still can't get a real job in 2014 because of it. No one else involved in that scandal has suffered the long term consequences that she has.

Was what she did wrong? Yes. Was she stupid for doing it? Yes. Should she be pilloried for the rest of her life for it? No.

@ Hunter78,

I think you have Monica confused with Linda Tripp.…
LACKING - Some things I learned from a similar relationship to yours:

-If he's having problems with alcohol, it is a bigger issue than you can deal with alone. YOU CAN'T SAVE HIM. Loving you is never going to be enough because he doesn't love himself yet. He's had 30 years of these struggles, and he needs to sort out his shit before he pulls you into the vortex of his problems. It will only drag you down and make you feel shitty.

-Go to an Al-Anon meeting or call their hotline. It's for friends and family of problem drinkers. I found this brought some clarity to why I was so angry at him all the time, and found myself doing bat-shit crazy things that felt like I was acting in some bad movie.

-When it degenerates into physical abuse, it's gone too far. It means you're not healthy, and he's not healthy, and so neither of you should be together until you both sort your shit out.

-When you get out of the relationship, you'll find clarity, you realize that you're young, and you can learn from your mistakes and deal with your low self-esteem and anger. It's easier to do outside of the pressure-cooker of a fucked-up relationship.

-It's going to suck for him, and you may feel bad, but he is going to have to look himself in the mirror and find out how to fix his life now that you're not enabling him, which is better for him and you in the long run.

Or he'll just find the next unsuspecting 19 year old that's not going to recognize the warning signs.
@28/31, disagreeing and arguing is fine. If you scream during arguments, I think you're not emotionally healthy enough to date or to raise children. But feel free to ignore what one person on the internet thinks of you.
I had a similar relationship with a guy when I was in my early twenties (lots of shouting etc) we were both so insecure, and came very close to violence, but luckily neither of us actually lashed out at each other - I ended things before they got worse. Now I'm married to a loving guy, and we have a great relationship - I didn't need to go to counseling or anything, just needed to find someone who I was more compatible with. I guess my point is that sometimes if you're with the wrong person, it can bring out things inside you that you never knew existed. So maybe you have anger issues with this guy, but things might be different with the right person? (hopefully) - but that's just my experience...
OAU: contact a plaintiff's attorney about filing a defamation of character suit against the asshole.

Lacking: DTMFA. Christ Almighty, too much drama for "dating for a year." And why are you living with him so soon? You should be all fucking like rabbits and flowers and sunshine at this stage. What do you think your life looks like 10 years down the road? Life is too short. DTMFA
@43 LavaGIrl: However belated, Happy Thanksgiving and a great big hug right back!
To the people saying that the first year should be a honeymoon, and if it's bad at the beginning, it will only get worse later, that entirely depends on the people and the circumstance. My relationship with my wife has gotten better and better from the first year, in which we argued often, got into arguments that ended in one of us leaving the house in a huff, etc. She even slapped me once (and felt terrible after... i told her she got that free, the next we were done, period). But she had also just gotten out of an abusive relationship with her mother, and an abuse-enabling relationship with her mom's family, and the longer she was away from them the better she got. She also got a bit of therapy. And now we are great. We have a big argument about every six months which always end with hugs and understanding.

I am very glad I did not follow the advice that if it is difficult at the beginning, give up. Though I am also not an alcoholic.

@28 angry sex is AWESOME. I slightly regret that our arguments are so short and end so nicely now sometimes...
LACKING - get out. his drinking doesn't sound like the issue, but other things do: so you should go smoke pot with the neighbor to resolve a parking problem? - I'm cool with smoking pot but not how I'd solve that kind of issue and why didn't he go as well?

you're 20 you have lots of opportunities to find even weirder guys, I'm sure you do love him and it is always hard to walk away from that. brava to you for hitting some counseling. with or without him.
Late to this, but just saying: If I decide to murder somebody, and went through with it, my lifetime membership in the Society of Non-Murderers is revoked. For exactly the same reasons, LACKING's membership card in the Society of People Who Don't Hit Their Partners is also no longer valid.
The first year of a good relationship is not always rabbits and sunshine. From the day we met, before we even began dating, my partner and I--both grown-ass grownups--could see the parts of each other we didn't like. We fought about those parts. Years and kids later, we have each changed some aspects of our behavior, and mostly learned to accept the parts we cannot change, in order to get those sunny days.

I've never experienced a whole year without an argument--to those who have, I want to ask, what do you do when you run into an inevitable conflict?
LACKING, 3 months in to a relationship is far too soon to move in! Trust me, I married my ex 3 months in!! ;) Been there done that.

It might seem like moving in with boyfriends is urgent at 20, but at almost 43, believe me, it isn't.. I did the same thing. I have done that on rinse-repeat cycle for most of my adult life. It has never worked out.

Finally, at 41, I realized that, and took a year out of my life to get my shit together, as Dan suggested you do, and it was the best thing I have ever done.

You might or might not make this relationship work in the foreseeable, but eventually, trust me, it will not, until you've done what Dan suggested. Get your own shit straight, independently, not for the sake of this relationship, otherwise you will do what I have done with my life, serial-monogamy, which never does anybody any good and leaves a mighty body-count in your wake.

I have been dating my current bf for 7 months now, after we've both had time to think about relationships and be single for a while in between, and trust me, neither of us are ready to think about the moving-in question.

Find your own feet as an independent adult woman first, and then, and only then, should you think about moving in with a guy.

And always keep your finances separate and straight, so that when or if it does come time to move on again, you can, because you have the means and the money to do so.
Keep your power, Lacking. Don't let this guy manipulate you into things you don't want to do, and that includes things like shared bills, etc. Sounds like you're already on the way.

One slap is one slap. I also have anger issues. Don't let that shit get hold of you again, unless your physical safety depends on it.
Maybe take a self defense class or something, so you know how to channel that anger at the right times, not at the wrong ones.

I sound super-cynical, so I will also say that I like @59's elma's comment too. Sometimes people do manage to grow and form healthy relationships out of what starts out somewhat rocky.
Whatever, I wish you luck.
@59, did anyone refer to having an argument-free year? I just saw posters saying that LACKING and her boyfriend seemed to have a lot of fights and that maybe they should consider if they are compatible or not.

@60 Can you reframe your relationship history as something other than "a mighty body-count"? Nothing wrong with serial monogamy if you enjoyed the time with those partners.
No Hunter78 Savage Love Week in Review?

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.

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