Miss Information: How can I escape my emotionally abusive boyfriend?

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Miss Information: How can I escape my emotionally abusive boyfriend?


Dear Miss Information,

I’ve been with my partner for fifteen years. We met in high school and helped each other through some tough shit. Fast forward ten years; he cheats on me. I retaliated, and in a moment of my own insanity, slept with his insane brother. He’s decided to care for said disabled brother without discussing it with me, and asked me to move out of the house when I expressed that I was uncomfortable with the idea. When I ask him about marriage, kids, and our future he gets angry and defensive. I recently discovered that he told all of our mutual friends about the time that I slept with his brother, so obviously although he says he’s forgiven me, he hasn’t.

In the past seven months since his brother has moved in and I’ve moved out, my partner no longer seeks me out for one on one time. I want to talk about serious couple stuff, but he refuses. When I visit him at home, he plays his video games for hours and I’m left to interact with his brother who constantly hits on me. My partner will not address this directly with his brother and tells me just to tell him when it happens. I’m tired of being jerked around and I’m starting to recognize the impact that this is having on my emotional and physical well being and my work productivity.

So here’s my question: I have the opportunity to take a job in a new city, which means leaving my friends, my present job, and my social and professional network in my present city to escape my emotionally abusive partner. Should I run for the hills, or is it possible to live in the same city and work for the same company and separate healthfully from him? And if so, how do I go about doing this? — Heartbroken and Afraid

Dear Heartbroken and Afraid,

The world is yours, like they say in Scarface. I can easily see you succeeding at either. Of course, I’m not you, and whatever road you take will be anything but easy.

You’ve already done the really hard job of deciding you want to end the relationship, but a few quick thoughts to reinforce that in case you’re waffling:

– He doesn’t want to move the relationship forward

– He doesn’t consult you when making major life decisions

– He’s immature, passive-aggressive, and doesn’t take you seriously

Pro’s for taking the new job would be that you’d get some physical distance, have something to occupy your mind, and meet new people. Con’s would be losing your support system and being the new girl in town, which can be fun as hell but also lonely.

Ask yourself whether you’re moving for the job (a good reason) or whether you’re hoping that your absence will make this guy’s heart grow fonder (a bad reason) . There are certain issues – such as codependency – that you can’t solve by changing zip codes. If you have no interest in the job other than to get back at your boyfriend, you’re better off staying put and seeing a shrink. Likewise, if you take the job but text him every night to check in and visit every weekend.

If you do pass on the new job, I wouldn’t recommend continuing to work at the same company as your ex, unless you guys are at one of those enormous corporate monoliths. There will always be some excuse to run into each other and relapse is all too easy. The fact that he can’t keep his mouth shut isn’t exactly comforting either. You think he’s loose-lipped now, wait until you dump him. You’ll find yourself in the same position I found myself in ten years ago when a jilted workplace ex took revenge. I found myself explaining to a member of senior management why I hadn’t, in fact, been a participant in an orgy. Talk about your classy situations…

Dear Miss Information,

Is it weird to put songs with the word "love" in them on a Valentine’s Day mix CD for a boyfriend who you haven’t said the L word to yet? I’m not talking like, mushy gushy love songs, but perhaps some early Beatles pop songs, the hidden track at the end of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Fever to Tell, sometimes known as Porcelain, sometimes known as Poor Song. Is that okay? Or should I steer clear of any kind of implied squishy, lovey sentiments? Some information on my particular situation: We’ve been together since the end of December and have known each other several years. We get along great, and I can see us being together for a while, but I don’t want to force anything on him, especially if we aren’t really "there yet." Thoughts? — Mixed Up

Dear Mixed Up,

How can you make a Valentine’s Day mix and not include a song or two with the L word? Isn’t that what the majority of songs are about? What else are you going to put on there? Deicide? Celtic Frost? Music mixes are a great gift for a significant other. They’re cheap, personal, and a way for those of us who did not choose the career path of narcissism and extended adolescence otherwise known as "DJ’ing" to impose our taste in music on other people. To that end, I present:

Miss Information’s Do’s and Don’ts of Romantic Music Mixes

DO: Give a heads up, especially if it’s a reciprocal gift-giving occasion. There’s something about a lovingly researched collection of songs vs. a box full of jack squat that makes the latter seem especially embarrassing.

DON’T: Expect miracles. It’s a bunch of songs, and those mean different things to different people. They might get misty if you burn them a disc full of rare German ALF episodes but won’t consider the hours you spent slaving over iTunes a very big deal.

DO: Make it about them. That stuff I said earlier about imposing your taste in music on other people? I was joking. If they like rap, don’t make them a mix full of Wilco. One or two songs, fine. More than that? You might as well title it Now That’s What I Call Trying to Change You!, Volume VIII.

DON’T: Neglect the presentation. Write some liner notes, draw some illustrations, and give it a silly title. Quick rule of thumb: the shorter the relationship, the less elaborate the extras. You want to romance them, not make them wonder if all you do for a living is sketch twee portraits of their likeness in pen.

DO: Have a backup, especially if you’re unsure whether a mix is even appropriate for the occasion. Bring out Gift A, gauge their reaction, then make the call on whether or not to whip out the mix. If it doesn’t feel right, save it or just keep it for yourself. Happy birthday to me!

DON’T: Be one-noted. You can get away with just about any emotion and any song as long as you include something to balance it out. If the last song was some brooding Yo La Tengo, try some Beach Boys. Just look at the songs as a whole and make sure you’ve got a decent range of moods and themes.

Readers, what’s your idea of the perfect romantic music mix? Any song suggestions that convey Mixed Up’s desired message of "I like you but rest assured I do not want to wear your skin"?

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