Dear Dr. Romance,
My name is Michelle i am 18 years old.. I was reading an article that you posted up about fighting; and everything that you talked about not doing during a fight I tend to do. I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years now and we tend to fight a lot about the smallest things that you could possibly imagine. I am usually the one who doesn't blow up or yell. I tend to hold everything in, but I do cry a lot. He says really hurtful things that hurt my feelings. When I do get mad I try to win the fight and prove my point instead of trying to find the solution like you say. When he gets mad he yells and even calls me names like a bitch or a dumbass, which hurts my feelings.. and I tell him constantly that I don't like when he does that because I don't do that to him so why does he do that to me and his response is because I act dumb. but in all honesty doctor I don't think I act dumb. I just like to talk about ways to improve our relationship and he is a very closed person he doesn't share his feelings.. well now he doesn't. We had been broken up for 7 months and we recently got back together. and during the 7 months of us being broke up I dated 3 guys. but I never took them seriously persay. I went on a couple of dates with one of them and the other 2 I went on 1 date each. but when I was with those guys I realized I wanted to be with my ex (3 year guy), but I had no way to contact him. he dated 5 girls while we were apart. now that we are back together all he talks about is what I did with those guys. but the thing is I don't ask him because it has nothing to do with me what he did with those girls so why is he asking me. He constantly throws it in my face that I dated 3 guys, but isn't he being a hypocrite? Since all he is concerned about is what I did with those guys we can't have a healthy relationship because all he does is fight with me. Before we had broken up he would be very affectionate and be very understanding and caring, but now what is left of our relationship is horrible. I love him to death but if I can't find a solution to this we are going to have to break up for good.. so please help me/us.
I'm not sure why you're with such an abusive guy. You need to learn to stand up for yourself, and not accept name-calling and abuse from him. You may have to break off the relationship again and then give him conditions for getting back together. He thinks it's OK to control you, and he won't listen to you tell him it's not, so you have to act on it. You will get treated in the way you accept. If he starts yelling, calling you names, and being abusive, leave. Even if it's nighttime, in a restaurant or in front of friends, just get up silently and leave. Grow up and get in control of your own behavior. Read "Setting Boundaries and Saying No" and get a copy of my book, Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage to understand more about how not to fight. You deserve a much better relationship than this jerk can give you.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., "Dr. Romance," is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again and Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina email newsletter, and the Dr. Romance Blog. She has written for and been interviewed in many national publications, and she has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live and many other TV and radio shows.