Dear Annie: My 35-year-old daughter can’t seem to meet a decent man to have a relationship with. She has never married but has had several long-term relationships. The men were very charming in the beginning but turned out to be physically and emotionally abusive.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around why she stays in these relationships so long and why she puts up with the abuse. She wasn’t abused and didn’t see anyone being abused while she was growing up. She was loved and supported in everything she pursued.
She recently started a new relationship, and though I don’t know whether this person is abusive, I do see that the relationship is starting out with her making all the concessions and changing her life to meet his needs. This is very much a pattern for her. She goes out of her way to help and do things for them and gets very little in return.
What can I do to help her see what she is doing? I just can’t stand to see her go down the same road over and over. I don’t think she has ever had a man who went out of his way to do anything for her. I realize she must have some sort of low self-esteem to get into these one-sided relationships. She’s beautiful and smart, with a college degree and a great job. I want her to realize her worth and quit settling. — Frustrated Mom
Dear Mom: As difficult as it is to see your daughter going down the same road over and over, she has to be the one to take an exit. You can empower her to make that decision by building up her self-esteem and acting as a friend and confidante. Knowing that she has a loving refuge in friends and family will make the prospect of leaving an abuser less daunting -- but only slightly, and it’s still not going to be easy. If she’s expressed to you that she wants help, you might encourage her to go to a counselor. But if she’s in denial, any help you try to give her will have the opposite effect.
I truly hope her current relationship doesn’t become abusive. If it does, I encourage you to call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
Dear Annie: To “Blah Birthday,” the young newlywed who complained that her husband took her on her birthday to something he liked instead of her favorite: Get over it. My husband has been dead for five years. We usually spent my birthdays at home together. I loved it! He was a romantic, and we spent time cuddling, maybe watching a movie on television, and it was beautiful because I was with the man I loved. Did it occur to “Blah Birthday” to be grateful that her husband remembered her birthday? Did it occur to her that her husband did something he truly thought would be special? No, it only occurred to her to be a whining, selfish woman.
I would give anything to have my wonderful guy back. I would love to have our evening of cuddling. But that is all gone now.
Please get over your selfish self and thank the man who bothered to remember you at all on your birthday. One day, you just might wish you had, when it is no longer possible to tell him you appreciate him. — Loved My Guy
Dear Loved My Guy: I should certainly hope that a husband remembers his wife’s birthday. However, I think most of us could use a reminder to be grateful, so I’m printing your letter. I’m sorry for your loss.
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