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Dear Amy: When I started seeing my guy, we were so in tune and on the same page about everything!
About a month into dating, a switch was flipped.
While I’m making some of the biggest steps forward in my life and seeing incredible professional opportunities, he is facing jail time.
I know that it’s incredibly stressful for him.
He gets upset when I ask what happened to the honeymoon phase of our relationship; he’s hardly available for me, as he needs to save to pay his bills for the two to three months he’ll be gone.
We love each other and want to be together. But he won’t show up for me emotionally, and it’s hard.
I’ve suggested a break until he’s back in the summer. Now he promises to be more emotionally available.
I’m struggling to decide if it’s worth the sadness I feel waiting this out, but I want to be there for him.
But what if this is just what he’s always like? Sometimes he’s cold, other times demanding. He goes back and forth. He says things and doesn’t follow through. I’m always waiting.
I don’t want to wait for no reason or just so he can use me (and my pocketbook). But I also don’t want to leave because I know that facing jail time is extremely scary. I know I’m empathetic in love, to a fault.
What advice can you give me?
Dear Empathetic: It strikes me as extremely unreasonable to look at a man facing jail time and ask, “What happened to our honeymoon phase?”
That honeymoon ship has sailed.
Read your question and ask yourself: “What would I tell my best friend if she brought this messy relationship dilemma to me?”
As it is now, you play the relationship martyr, and he emotionally manipulates you. You should assume that the way he is behaving now is the way he always behaves.
Do not do the relationship work for him, and do not make excuses for him. That’s not empathy; that’s enabling.
Pay very close attention to what he does, versus what he says.
You don’t say what crime this man was convicted of, but the wisest and most empathetic course for you to take would be to maintain a non-romantic friendship, while understanding that you both have jobs to do. You need to work hard to fulfil your professional potential, and he needs to pay his debt to society and then – once he has done so — reintegrate into the world.
Whether you are standing by when he returns will be completely up to you.
Dear Amy: Is it normal for parents to ask their young children if they love them?
My ex-partner sometimes asks our 2-1/2-year-old if he loves him and I find it strange, if not inappropriate.
Our son is a loving boy who spontaneously gives hugs, kisses and says, “I love you” to close relatives.
His dad only sees him a few hours each week (by choice), so that could explain why he needs reinsurance. However, I wonder if it’s not too much to ask such a young child.
And of course, the answer is always yes, so I find it a bit disturbing that his father asks it every once in a while.
Recently, my son asked him that same question; something he has never done with me or anybody else, so he was just imitating his dad, I think.
How can I tell my ex not to ask our toddler that question anymore?
Dear Uncomfortable: Many parents and children relay similar prompts: “How much do you love me?”
“To the moon and back!”
I agree that this probably started as a bid for reassurance from a distant dad, but – unless the relationship is otherwise imbalanced — I don’t believe it is harmful, at all.
Don’t police how this dad relates to his son, but do support both in growing a successful relationship.
It is challenging to support an ex in this way, but it is genuinely best for everyone in the long run — and parenting is all about the long run.
Dear Amy: Thank you for telling “Lost and Alone” that her husband, who has heart disease, impotence and decrease in libido and who has been withdrawing to the TV room, should see his doctor.
A frank discussion of medical conditions and sexuality is in order. The husband may also benefit from an evaluation for depression, another medical condition that may adversely affect sexual desire and functioning.
– Retired MD
Dear MD: Thank you!