Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have been dating my boyfriend for almost seven months. We have had our ups and many, many downs, but we are still working on our relationship — physically and emotionally. Recently, I’ve become aware that my boyfriend has been watching porn. I figured it would improve our sex life — but it has become a daily thing. I have watched porn constantly with him, but it doesn’t really help at all. I prefer the real thing to something that’s not even real. Whenever he downloads pictures, it’s always a certain type of white girl — I’m not — and I honestly get jealous. When I confront him about it, he yells at me. I honestly worry he’s doing more than just watching porn. And when I ask, he always says that he doesn’t have anyone on the side and that he only wants me. I just feel like my time is being wasted and I don’t like that. Should I continue to date and live with him? I’m tired of this abusive and neglectful relationship. How do I get the truth out of him?
DEAR UPSET: Look at what is in front of you. You have a guy who, according to you, prefers pornography to the real thing. You’re in a very young relationship, which has “many, many downs.” When you confront him about these issues, he yells at you instead of talking about it.
What more “truth” could you possibly need? Porn has not enhanced your sex life — it has deadened it. He can’t even have a real relationship with you — and he sounds too lazy to look elsewhere.
Your description of this relationship is depressing. You don’t mention one single positive thing about it. You should not be living with this person. Don’t bother looking for more answers about his behavior — it will only delay the inevitable. Focus on your own choices and vow to make better ones in the future.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for more than 30 years. I used to wonder why long-married couples divorced; I don’t anymore. I can see, that as the busyness of children and work winds down, there is time available for friction to arise. We fuss mostly about little things. We go grocery shopping and spend five minutes negotiating the package size, brand and features of paper products. (Amy, I wish I were kidding about this.) This morning we had a bitter argument about my closing a toilet lid. (Not the seat, the lid.) It included him threatening to leave the seats up “to fight back.” I played with some coasters he had “arranged” and we argued about that. As semi-retirement becomes full retirement, I just don’t know if I can take it. I am worn out from discussing every little thing. I don’t even know what my question is. I just want to give up.
Tired and Baffled
DEAR TIRED: From your telling, your husband sounds almost continuously irritated. Has he always been like this? If not, barring possible medical reasons, you can assume that he has hit a rough patch of a major life-transition. Men, especially, are sometimes discouraged from revealing their real fears; this might be how he communicates his anxiety. Try to listen without responding and react with compassion: “Honey, this isn’t about coasters. You seem so unhappy lately. I hate to see you like this.”
Behavioral fixes would be for you both to get plenty of exercise — and for each of you to make an effort to develop interests, hobbies and plenty of connections and stimulation outside the home, through volunteering, networking, and/or part-time work. Depending on his interests, he might enjoy a part-time job in a home-improvement store, where his need for precision would be an asset.
It is never too late to try to relate differently. A marriage counselor could coach you in the right direction.
DEAR AMY: Your response to “At a Loss” was off base. This writer was wondering why so many divorced fathers drift away from their children. There are a lot of deadbeat dads out there, Amy. Your head is in the sand.
DEAR BEEN THERE: My knowledge of deadbeat dads is intimate and firsthand, unfortunately. But I also understand how challenging it is for noncustodial parents to build and maintain relationships with their children when their visitation is limited.