Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old daughter was dating a guy for about two years. Although neither her dad nor I approved of the relationship, we kept it to ourselves. After dating him for quite some time, my daughter admitted to me that he was emotionally abusive to her, calling her names and pointing out every flaw she had. Nothing was ever good enough for him. My daughter had a couple of panic attacks and lost over 20 pounds when they went through their rough times. Throughout this relationship, everyone thought her boyfriend was gay and had not yet come out. I had talked to her about this and she had agreed with me. Later she told me that he had been pinching her, squeezing her hand really hard and slapping her face lightly. She was told by someone who had been in an abusive relationship that these were the signs of him "testing the waters, to see what he can get away with." I spent many nights crying about it with her. I tried to get her to talk to a therapist, which she would not do. She finally decided to break up with him. Now, after about six weeks she has decided that she has made a mistake! I told her he is not welcome in our house because of everything he has done and all of the agony he has put her through. I cannot condone this relationship. She is now lying to us in order to see him. I told her I am going to make an appointment with the therapist again but she refuses to go. Am I wrong in not letting him come to our house and for not condoning this relationship?

Worried Mother

DEAR MOTHER: You have every right to try to limit your exposure to your daughter's abusive boyfriend. However, you should acknowledge her choice, tell her this choice worries you, but ask her not to hide her involvement in this relationship from you.

You don't want to box her into a secretive relationship with her abuser. Your attitude will have to be firm, but neutral, i.e., "We are worried about you. We don't like your choice to be with him. But we don't control you and we are here for you." Definitely keep your appointment with a therapist. You cannot force your daughter into therapy, but you should seek it for yourself.

A book your daughter might find helpful is "In Love and In Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships," by Barrie Levy (2006, Seal Press). Leave it by her bedside.

DEAR AMY: I have been living with a man for four months. We have had a tumultuous six-year relationship. I told him I only wanted to do this if he could be exclusive and I could trust him. He continues to be on an online dating site and tried arranging times to meet these ladies. He has met with old girlfriends. We love each other, but I don't trust him and now I am starting to believe trust might be more important than love. When confronted, he says he is just keeping his options open in case I decide to leave him. He has a reputation of being a player. I really believed he was willing to change to be with me, but I'm not sure he's capable. We have a great time together, but I am worried about my future at 54 years old. He is 61.

Trust vs. Love

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DEAR TRUST: You should let this player know that his instincts were right to keep his options open, because now he will be completely available. It's time for you to move out and move on.

DEAR AMY: Regarding, "Hostess with the Mostest," whose houseguest used a product which created bleach stains on their towels, I think Hostess should save those bleached-out bath and hand towels her friends ruined and place them in the guest bathroom when they return for their next weekend visit.

Bruce

DEAR BRUCE: Other readers suggested this passive-aggressive response. Maybe switching to white towels would be a better idea.