Marry Abusive Boyfriend?
Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years, and most times when we argue he resorts to name calling and swearing. Recently, we've been arguing more, and a couple of times he's put his hands on me. We have had a really good relationship when we're happy, and now he wants me to commit to being with him forever. I'm 25. We're reading relationship books, and he says he will put forth whatever effort it takes to make it work, but I'm afraid. How can you tell if the abuse will continue? --Maxine
Dr. Susan: You're absolutely right to worry. Abuse in an intimate relationship, both physical and verbal, tends to increase rather than disappear. Your boyfriend clearly has problems with anger control. All the promises in the world can't assure you that you'll be safe with him. The only way he can prove he's changed is to change. So don't be too quick to commit forever until you've been able to have disagreements with him where he acts appropriately and not abusively. No name-calling is allowed, and certainly no clobbering! Don't jump the gun here or you may be in for a lifetime of escalating misery. He may need to get help for his outbursts, and it wouldn't hurt you to find out how you may contribute to the violent system -- but it's not your fault if he flies off the handle.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.