The Luv Doc: A Very Passionate Boyfriend
Find someone whose baseline is not assaulting you
Dear Luv Doc,
My boyfriend is very passionate. He loves rock music. He loves football and baseball. He loves tacos and pizza and he really loves me ... maybe too much. We are around each other all the time, but this semester I started back at ACC full time to try to finish my degree. I have made some new friends (female and male) and the last few weekends some of my classmates have asked me out for drinks. On Saturday we went out with a group of my school friends to a brewpub, and my boyfriend got drunk enough that I insisted on driving us home. That made him a little mad because he didn't think he was that drunk. Then, when we got home he started accusing me of flirting with one of my male classmates and asking me if I was cheating on him. I got mad and tried to leave the room, but he grabbed my arm and tried to yank me back, so I screamed really loudly at him to let me go. He didn't let go. He raised his other hand like he was about to slap me, but he didn't. I started crying and he finally let go, but it left bruises on my arm and really scared me. Since then he has been very apologetic and sweet. I have talked to some of my friends about it and they think I should break up with him and move out. I am not sure. I know he really loves me and I think he is sorry. This is the first time anything like this has happened, but we have only been dating since March and I just moved in with him in August. What do you think? Should I give him another chance?
– Beloved but Bruised
One of the biggest reasons people stay in bad/dangerous/abusive relationships is that they fear they won't find someone better. That's pretty fucked up, isn't it? Somewhat ironically, another one of the biggest reasons women stay in abusive relationships is because they optimistically believe that their partner will someday stop abusing them. The truth is they're right. After all, if you never leave an abusive partner, you will never know if you could have found someone better, and the abuse will eventually stop, but instead of being the result of some profound epiphany of pacifism, empathy, or compassion, it's usually because of your partner's incarceration or your death.
If you're going to play both sides of the relationship prognostication fence, at least play the odds. Be optimistic that you will find someone whose baseline is not assaulting you, and be pessimistic that this guy is never going to hurt you again. You have clearly established that he has some issues to work out – jealousy being one of them – but first and foremost he needs to get control of his urge to control you physically and without your consent. He doesn't need your help with that. In fact, your continued presence will slow his progress in that regard considerably.
I guess I am a bit of an optimist in that I believe that people can change. However, as the old saying goes, true change has to come from within. Sometimes people need to have some space and solitude to figure out how they should change and why. Your situation seems to me to be exactly that kind of scenario. Give your boyfriend the space to work on his aggression and jealousy issues as your ex-boyfriend. You will be doing yourself and your local ER unit a favor; at least that's what I would expect a smart college girl to do.