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"?

Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Commentarium (29 Comments)

Feb 15 10 - 1:03am

HA: The only question is do you leave today or yesterday.

Feb 15 10 - 2:39am

Let me get this straight: you slept with his disabled brother, and you're unsure as to why he treats you like shit? Maybe you should stop being a manipulative asshole, and see a shrink.

Feb 15 10 - 4:56am

If anyone slept with my disabled brother to get "revenge" on me I'd gut them. Hell has a special place for people that fuck the disabled out of spite.

Feb 15 10 - 7:30am

You people realise that disabled people are people....we shall assume he is not mentally disabled as that would something else entirely...so shall we just leave it as 'she slept with his brother'....god forbid disabled people are seen as sexual adults who can make their own decisions....oh and H&A...he has emotionally dumped you already....moved you out of the house and has shut down...leave him and move on....good luck.

Feb 15 10 - 8:20am

The day after Valentine's Erin is giving advice about how to make a mix tape?
The people who write in must have the same opinion of her advice as I do.

The irony is that she also has the audacity to run a full column every week where she does nothing but make snarky comments about other columnists' crappy (and not so crappy) advice. Maybe that eye can turn inward this week?

Feb 15 10 - 11:23am

Erin is the most clear-sighted, insightful, and on-target advice columnist writing. She freqently solicits readers' feedback when she has doubts about her advice, and takes it to heart. I only visit Nerve to read Erin's column.

Feb 15 10 - 1:18pm

I thnk the first letter writer is not owning enough responsibility here. I know he cheated first, but to react by sleeping with his brother, who from the sounds of it is vulnerable and needs taking care of...Well I can see why her bf began to take her less seriously. Her behaviour was emotionally immature and she hasn't even acknowledged that properly. He will be protective over his brother...And angry with her for using him. The fact that he is disabled does have some bearing whether or not he is sexually active. I'm sorry, but it does. The letter writer needs to grow up and accept that she has had a big part to plan in poisoning the relationship, but also to accept that sometimes people grow apart and change and fall out of love, and this will be exacerbated on the part of her bf when she proves herself to be weak. Get angry, but don't get even. She should take the job and so both she and her bf can get on with their lives and try and get over the whole painful mess of their infidelities.

Feb 15 10 - 1:56pm

The mix-tape advice should have run last week, of course, but that doesn't undercut the quality of the advice that Erin puts out, which tends to be very good. The advice to H&A today, for example, is spot on. There isn't an objectively correct answer to her question about moving or staying. So Erin takes the sound approach of identifying the pros and cons of each choice, and emphasizing what constitutes good and bad reasons for both. I'm not sure you can ask for more from an advice columnist. Finally, I don't get the sense from the letter that H&A is trying to avoid responsibility. Both parties behaved badly, and the relationship obviously has ended. The issue now is not assignment of blame or name-calling; it's how does this woman move on and away from this period and takes what she learned from it, including from her own poor choices, and makes a better life for herself in the future.

Feb 15 10 - 2:48pm

She gets asshole points for sleeping with the brother. She doesn't neccesarily get extra asshole points for him being disabled-she doesn't say what kind of disability it is-if the guy is retarded, then she's a slimeball. But the brother might just have some physical problem, and be totally normal mentally.

Feb 15 10 - 3:43pm

I realize disabled doesn't neccesarily mean any mental problems-- I'm not a fucking idiot. But there is significance in the fact that the writer took the time to write 'disabled,' so obviously there is something about him being 'disabled.'

Feb 15 10 - 3:56pm

The writer refers to the brother as "insane" so you have to wonder exactly what it entails.

Either way, take the job and grow up. In the future, don't fuck someone's brother for revenge, you moron.

Feb 15 10 - 6:35pm

"dating" for 15 years and he won't talk about "the future" (i.e. marriage, kids, etc)???? And you are wondering about how to break up with him?? Really? FIFTEEN YEARS??? he may be emotionally abusive but you, dear, have a host of issues of your own. Fifteen Years????? Really? I'm afraid this ALL on you. He proved his "worth" a LONG, LONG time ago and you willingly settled for it. The only real question here is WHY?

Feb 15 10 - 7:11pm

Miss Info, may I ask where you got your blazer in the new pic? I dig.

Feb 15 10 - 7:51pm

Does anybody else think that *he asked to her to move out* is the big blinking neon red flag with its own red flag kickline? The fact that he doesn't want to live with you and doesn't want to spend time with you should clue you in to his feelings about your future together. I would take that new job no matter what--you obviously need some distance from this person in order to get a handle on this situation, because it seems glaringly obvious that there is NO reason to stay with this guy, and that there no happy future for YOU, let alone the two of you, if you stick around this guy.

Feb 15 10 - 10:48pm

Dear Heartbroken & Afraid: PLEASE stay with your boyfriend! Do whatever it takes to make it work, including including his brother in your lovemaking. Because if you were back on the market and I ever had a soupcon of a chance of hitting on your manipulative, passive-aggressive, batshit crazy ass, I'd just have to jump the zoo fence and commit suicide by chimp. Have a great day!

Feb 16 10 - 2:47am

You don't fuck your partner's sibling, disabled or not, especially for revenge purposes. That's beyond shitty, and unforgivable really. Leave town and start over. (Or, what Dee said.)

PO: "Soupcon of a chance", very nice.

Feb 16 10 - 7:16am

Let's make one thing clear....if he was mentally disabled that could be a criminal offence...she has inlcuded this fact because his brother must look after him....other than that he is an adult and can make his own decisions....it is attitudes like this towards the disabled that drive them to sleep with their brother's girlfriends (which makes him a disabled douchebag as well).

Feb 16 10 - 2:24pm

HA should stay with her boyfriend. Last thing the world needs is another wretch like her poisoning the dating scene.

Feb 16 10 - 4:04pm

You posters are the mentally disabled here.

Feb 16 10 - 5:52pm

The first one is such a traim wreck. She says "I want to talk about serious couple stuff, but he refuses." That sounds painful just to hear her say it. The relationship has been over for a long time already. Get over it.

Feb 16 10 - 6:03pm

Dear Miss,

I must say it again. You are Hot!! I am so into you, it's not even a little funny. Really!! I see you all the time, here, there, on Nerve.
Its like heaven.
I'm yours babe, whenever you want me,
Take me, you sexual lightning rod!!

Feb 17 10 - 9:22am

The fact that she fucked someone disabled is not the biggest issue. Who knows who seduced who? The issue is that she is not looking after herself. First by responding to an infidelity with another infedility. Second by refusing to accept that her boyfriend of 15 years ain't gonna change his mind about their relationship trajectory. Third that she isn't getting that this guy is clearly not her biggest fan either. Yeah, she should leave. Doesn't matter where, but somewhere far away would give her a fighting chance of working on her self-esteem and examing her own flawed behaviour and having a relationship with her father.

Feb 17 10 - 9:24am

Oh my god, I meant 'having a relationship with a future.' Not Freudian, I sincerely hope...

Feb 19 10 - 2:30pm

I wonder if she was using the term "disabled" pejoratively - like he's a fucked up person with problems, but not necessarily mentally impaired. Fucking the impaired is wrong, fucking the batshit crazy who make bad life decisions is something most of us have done at one point or another. Just a thought.

Feb 27 10 - 12:34am
C. S.

I'm not sure I would move to another city right away when you work is suffering at your present job, that is a recipe for disaster in a new city and new job without any emotional or financial support.

At the very least, challenge yourself to not call for 1 month, then 2 months, then 3 months. Stop being a glutton for punishment. It's over...it is time you accepted this...when the 3 month period is over, consider a move or seek out a new social circle or your well-established friendships. Forget about the ex-bf...it's now just history.

Since you apparently work with your ex-bf, if you work in different departments and don't have to work on projects together in any capacity, just be polite and say hello if you run into him in public. Don't be surprise if he shows some interest in you if you are lunching with a male or make some changes to your appearance, I would TOTALLY STEAR CLEAR OF ANY INTEREST ON HIS PART ONCE YOU ARE FREE FROM HIM. Just be polite but firm with an excuse so that you keep the conversation as short as possible.

Mar 11 10 - 1:45am
lol wut???

Seriously??? OK, lets get some stuff straight:

1) You slept with your B.F.'s mentally handicapped brother(actual handicap unclear; could be interpreted as rape)to get revenge against your B.F.

2) You then asked your B.F. not to help aforementioned brother by providing housing in a time of extreme need, because you would feel uneasy living with someone you had molested.

3)You can't even explain to you B.F.'s brother that you were just using him. You leave this difficult task to your B.F.

4) HE'S the one whose emotionally abusive????

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