In Search of a Happy Ending | Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine #LLm
2015 stripe

Category: In Search of a Happy Ending

The Love of My Life is Already Married

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Q.  I’m single, 32-years-old, and I’ve been seeing a man I met through work (he doesn’t work in my office) for almost six months. I’ve dated a lot of men, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been in love until now. The problem—and it’s a big one—is that he’s been married for almost 14 years. He says he’s been very unhappy at home and thinks about leaving his wife all the time. However, he doesn’t want to leave his two children and is afraid of making a mistake. He’s told me he’s falling in love with me though, and I definitely have fallen hard for him. I know it’s wrong to have let this happen, but I just couldn’t resist him. He’s romantic, funny, and treats me so well when we are together, but I can tell he is nervous whenever we are out in public and it puts a dark cloud over our time together. I understand that his kids have to come first, so I don’t know if he’ll have the courage to leave. I’ve thought about whether I’d keep seeing him even if he doesn’t, and considering my options, I’m leaning toward staying with him no matter what. I believe he’s the love of my life, so how can I give him up when he makes me so happy? What is your advice?

A.  You are right about one thing. Dating a married man is a big problem, not only for you and for him, but for his wife and his children even though they may not know it yet. I don’t believe infidelity is ever okay because it means someone is being deceived and betrayed. For the record, many, many people maintain healthy and happy relationships with their children after divorce, so I’m not from the “stay in it for the kids” school of thought, and don’t accept that as an excuse for cheating on his wife. (An unhappy parental relationship is not a good example for children to witness anyway.)

No matter how you feel, step back and think of the big picture here. If this man is truly the love of your life, then you should be the love of his life, too. If you are, then he needs to man-up and find the courage to divorce his wife before continuing on with your romance. This would show his emotional maturity, good faith, and his ability to honor you as a partner. If he thinks it is okay to offer you less than a healthy, open, and monogamous relationship, then he may not think as highly of you as you imagined, and neither do you! This could be a sign that you need to work on your self-esteem. You are only 32 years old, yet you seem to believe you are out of other options, hopes, and possibilities. I’d venture to say your perspective is skewed due to your present feelings about this man.

My advice is to have a heart to heart with him and tell him that as much as you care for him, you don’t want a relationship based on deceit where you have to skulk around while out in public. If a man sees you setting appropriate boundaries, and standing up for yourself and what you deserve, he will have much more respect for you no matter his decision. Right now, as well as you think he treats you, he is not honoring you. He needs to have the audacity to do the right thing, and the fortitude to accept the consequences. If he cannot, or will not, then maybe he isn’t as unhappy at home as you think. If you stay with him anyway, expect to always play second, third, or fourth fiddle in his life. How long do you really think your happiness will last then?

 

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My Boyfriend Wants Kids, But I Don’t …

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Q.  I’m 28 and have been seeing a special man for almost two years. Things have been great and we recently broached the subject of marriage. I think we are compatible in so many ways, but the one issue we have is that he wants to have kids, and I don’t. I know it is often the other way around. I have several girlfriends whose boyfriends don’t want families, or aren’t sure about it, but somehow I managed to find a man who is dead set on it. He sometimes tries to talk me into the idea, sharing his feelings about how wonderful it would be to have a family of our own, and that he’d love to see what a child of ours would look like. I feel guilty and try to let myself be swayed, but ultimately, I know it’s not what I really want. The thing is, I love him so much and don’t want to let him go. It’s so hard to find a great guy these days. What would you do?

 

A.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is a heartbreaking one. The facts are the facts. When two people disagree about the most important decision a couple can make—having children—there is no good way to reconcile the problem. You love each other, but you want very different lifestyles. Having children is an enormous responsibility. So many people take the decision lightly and barely question it beforehand, probably because society expects it of us, especially of women. It’s not until the baby comes that people realize the immense undertaking they have chosen—and those are people who wanted kids. Therefore, know that you can never pretend to want something as all-encompassing as children no matter how hard you try, and don’t feel guilty about it either. Your decision is just as valid as his. Just remember, if your boyfriend allows himself to let go of his dream of a family by marrying you, he’ll most likely end up resenting you for his loss. That’s why I believe the only wise decision you can make is to part ways now, and give each other the freedom to find the life each of you truly wants. It’ll be tough in the short term, but in the long term you will both have a chance to follow your hearts and your dreams with partners who will support your choices along the way.

 

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Torn Between Two Loves

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Q.  I have a big dilemma. I’m 25 and I’ve been seeing a really nice guy for eight months, but my ex-boyfriend (of four years) wants me back. Both are good men, but I feel more attracted to my ex-boyfriend. We had so many good times. My current boyfriend is fun to be with, but I’m not sure I’m as in love with him as I was with my ex. Do you have any advice that could help me make a good decision?

 

A.  First of all, I’d like to know why you and your ex-boyfriend broke up. Was it due to one of you cheating? Long distance between you? A fight? General malaise about the relationship? This is important information because it may be the key to whether or not a future relationship with him would be successful. Some issues are workable; others are not. Think long and hard about what caused the break-up and whether or not common sense tells you the problem may rear its head again in the future. It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes we only remember the good times we’ve had with someone, while blocking out the difficulties. It’s human nature. So is wanting someone when you think you can no longer have her. Is your ex possibly guilty of that? Weighing a four-year relationship against an eight-month long one may not be a fair comparison due to your longer history and attachment to your ex. Is it conceivable that you don’t feel as “in love” with your new man because you never really let go of the last one? If that’s the reason, then your feelings could easily change when you truly move on. In the meantime, ask yourself which man is more reliable? More attentive and kind? A better friend and partner? Which one wants a similar future to the one you imagine for yourself? Who makes you a better person for having known him? If you can answer those questions, you will have a much better chance of choosing your Mr. Right. Good luck!

 

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How can I recharge my sex life?

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Q. My boyfriend and I have been dating for about seven years and our sex life is pretty much gone. Although there is no excuse for it, I had an affair with someone else who I considered leaving him for. Anyway, I ended that affair when I realized that sex isn’t everything and that my boyfriend is so good to me in every other way. He’s been under a lot of stress for the past year, and I know this has a lot to do with it. I know that he feels terrible about this too, but he does not know how to approach the situation. The last time that I initiated sex, we were both so nervous that it didn’t work out, and it’s making me scared about trying again. I don’t know what to do. I love him very much, but lately I’ve been sexually fantasizing about other men a lot and I want to stop. I’m trying to hold on, but what do you think I should do? Is it possible to recharge my sex life?

 

A. Since it’s clear that you love him and want to make things work out between you, I say hold on tighter. This could be a temporary situation that could reverse itself with a few positive changes. I don’t know what is causing his stress, but he needs to address whatever problems he’s facing and try to correct them. If he can’t, he needs to learn how to deal more effectively with the stress they are causing. A good therapist can find ways to help him put things in perspective, feel stronger, and take control of his life again. A medical doctor may subscribe some medications that can help him temporarily. There are also many books that deal with all sorts of specific issues, as well as general stress management. For your part, let him know how much you miss the sex life you’ve shared with him. Tell him that since you love him so much, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to recapture it and you hope that he is, too. As hard as it is to stop fantasizing about sex when you are feeling extremely starved for it, try focusing your efforts on fixing the problem between you. (Or if you do fantasize, make it about him). Offer him understanding, patience and little tokens of affection. Give him assistance with things that may reduce his stress load or take the edge off of it. If he’s a good man who’s been a loving partner, he deserves that much. However, if you find after a prolonged period of time that nothing has changed because his efforts have been lacking, then it’s up to you to decide what is best for you in the long run. I think we’d all agree that life is way too long to resign yourself to a celibate existence. But if you decide to pursue other sexual options, do it the healthy way this time: break up with him first.

 

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My daughter is neglecting her kids

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Q. My daughter was recently divorced from her husband of 12 years who often travels on business. They were high school sweethearts and married young. He is a good man, but they just didn’t get along anymore. They have two children, 10 and 7, who I’m very worried about. I see them cry and act out when they are with me. It’s not just a divorce that the kids have to deal with, which is hard enough, but to make matters worse, my 35-year-old daughter seems to have reverted into a selfish child. At first she dated like a 16-year-old would, then she met a man who made things worse. He is very controlling and a negative influence on her. The kids (who sense they are unwelcome in his presence) do not like him, and neither do I or my husband. There is something very cold and unfeeling about him. I can’t figure out what she sees in him (nobody can), but he has a Svengali-like spell over her. It is causing her to be extremely selfish, neglect her children, and think the world revolves around her. She expects me to drop everything and babysit whenever she wants so she can gallivant around with this man and take romantic vacations with him. Of course I love the kids too much to turn her down, and am concerned who they’d be left with if I did. On top of everything else, she shows me no respect, gratefulness, or common courtesy and seems to think she’s entitled to everything I do for her and the children. When she was sick in the hospital recently, I was the one taking care of everyone, while her boyfriend never even came to visit her. I’ve tried to get her to seek help, but she refuses to talk to a therapist. Do you have any ideas on how I can better handle the situation?

A. I’ve noticed that many people who get married very young and then later get divorced, have a tendency to regress for a while and revert into another “childhood” of sorts, whereas people who marry at an older age are often more content with their partner because they have already sowed their oats and experienced several romantic relationships. You didn’t say how long she has been divorced, so I don’t know if you can chalk this up to such a phenomenon, but it’s an important point to keep in mind.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for children when one is “gallivanting” around on dates and romantic vacations, and I’m sure it is very hard on them to have a mother who is doing just that, especially when their father is often out of town. Pat yourself on the back for being such a doting and caring Grandma. You are putting the children first, which is something your daughter has not chosen to do. It’s unfortunate she has picked a man who separates her from her kids instead of sometimes including them as part of the package. It’s also quite distressing that she doesn’t think there is anything wrong with her behavior and therefore has no desire to seek help, but there is nothing you can do about that fact. Learning to deal with things that are out of your control is very difficult, but it is a necessary life lesson. Better to focus on what is in your control. As I see it, there are two things that fit the bill, and here are my suggestions.

1. Tell your daughter you cannot watch the kids whenever she wants to leave them. She is clearly taking advantage of you and it’s your right to put your foot down and let her know that you have a life, too. However, if you are worried they may not be left with a suitable babysitter, I can totally understand why you choose to be there for them. When you babysit, put a positive spin on it. Use that time with them as bonus time. Plan fun activities to do with them. Not only will they grow up knowing just how much you love them, but your home will be the safe and stable port in the storm.

2. I also think you should sit your daughter down at a time when neither of you are in a rush, both of you are calm, and no one else is around. Then approach the problem in a constructive way. That means a civil, respectful, and non-emotional discussion of what’s on your mind and what is worrying you. This is not the time to insult her boyfriend, reprimand her, or raise your voice. Approach her from a place of love. Let her know how her children are feeling, as they may not be acting that way around her. Appeal to her sense of motherhood without pointing out her deficiencies. If there’s hope for changing her ways, that discussion may be a good start. If not, then hopefully with some time she will see her boyfriend (who may just be her “transitional” man) in a realistic light and realize that not only would he be a poor stepfather, but he’d make a lousy husband, too. Good luck!

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Is my boyfriend a cad?

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Q. I’m 24 and have been seeing a man I really like for the last few months. I met him at a singles’ party. He’s 27, good looking, smart, and I have a good time when I’m with him. I assumed because he went to this party that he was looking for a relationship, but there’s a problem. He isn’t very reliable. He’s canceled dates last minute, forgotten to call me when he says he will, and doesn’t always ask me out on weekends. My friends say that he’s probably seeing other women, but we’ve already been intimate and I really didn’t think he was the type to sleep around. I’m not sure what the best way to handle this is, but I’m tired of waiting by the phone and not knowing if or when I’ll have plans with him. I’m not comfortable with confrontation, so what do you think is the best way to find out whether he’s playing the field or if he’s just not the responsible type? Should I be checking his phone texts when he showers, like my friend suggested? Or follow him to see where he goes when he cancels on me? I would hate to have to do either. Would love your advice on this.

 

A. You bring up a slew of concerns so I’ll address each one independently.

1. Just because you attend a singles’ party, doesn’t mean you are serious about finding a relationship. He could have gone for countless other reasons. Some people use those parties as merely another conduit for meeting people or socializing.

2. I know it’s not easy to find a man you really enjoy being with, but that’s not an excuse to accept bad behavior from him. Canceling dates last minute, leaving you hanging by the phone, and not making weekend plans with you are not the signs of a thoughtful man who wants a steady, solid, and honest relationship. These are the signs of an immature and selfish man who hasn’t learned the proper way to treat people.

3. If you want to know where someone is coming from (i.e. if he’s dating others), you cannot be afraid of confrontation. Confrontation doesn’t have to be dramatic. It can be as simple as asking the important questions—and that should be done before you become sexually involved. You cannot just assume that he’s being monogamous unless he tells you he is, and plans to be, while you are together. That said, since you are already sleeping with him, you have the right to know if he’s engaging in sex with others. The way to find out is NOT to snoop in his personal things or to stalk him. The way to find out is to ASK him. If you have a strong sense that he’s lying to you, then it’s time to say good-bye.

4. If you find out he’s not seeing others and may just be spending time with friends or family, there is still a rather large problem: his inconsiderate nature. If you don’t demand that men treat you with respect and thoughtfulness, you could easily end up with a cad who throws crumbs to you when it suits him. Is that really what you want in a partner? I doubt it. If I were you I’d ditch this guy like yesterday’s rubbish and move on knowing that I didn’t settle for less than I deserve or let someone else define my self-worth. If you’re not ready to give him up, then I strongly suggest you have that important conversation and share your feelings and concerns with him. If he truly cares about you, there’s always a chance he may learn the error of his ways and make some drastic, positive changes. If he doesn’t, then you have your answers loud and clear.

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How much is “enough” sex?

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Q.  I’ve been married to my husband (who is also my best friend) for nine years and we have a very good marriage. It is the second time around for both of us, and we have children (all over 16) from our first marriages. There’s lots of love between us, but over the past few years, the number of times we have sex has dwindled down from a couple of times a week to a couple of times a month (unless we are on vacation and therefore very relaxed). We both work, are tired, and have our share of daily stresses, and unfortunately our sex life often takes a back seat. Although in theory we’d like to spend more non-sleeping time in bed, we are both usually satisfied with the amount of time we do (or don’t) spend there. However, after seeing how obsessed the world seems to be with sex, I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with us that should be worked on. Are we unknowingly doing damage to our relationship? Should we be being more adventurous? Is having sex two times a month enough for two caring partners? I would love to know what you think.

 

A. In my observation, it’s the couples that don’t agree on how often they want sex that end up with problems in their relationship. When one partner’s sexual urges greatly outweigh the other’s, unhappiness, resentment, and insecurities can result. Sex is a wonderful way for a couple to bond and reconnect, but how often you feel you need to do this is up to you and your husband. When I read your question, I noted a few things. First, you and your husband are best friends. Those are the best kinds of love relationships because you truly care and look out for each other while making a great team. Second, you said, “there’s lots of love” between you. Therein lies the most important thing in a healthy marriage—love! And third, you are both on the same page when it comes to your carnal desires, so there isn’t strife between you because of the amount of time you spend in the bedroom. Therefore, I really don’t think that having sex a couple of times a month should worry you. I’m willing to bet more couples than you think do the same and just don’t talk about it because they, too, have let our oversexed society dictate their feelings of inadequacy. As long as you keep the lines of communication open with your husband to make sure you both remain on the same sexual wavelength, your relationship should stay strong. And if either of you should begin to feel that you truly desire more sex, I say plan one of your relaxing vacations and go!

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The Case of the Disappearing Date

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Q. I’m a 25-year-old woman who lives in a big city where it should be easy to find a mate. Unfortunately, though, I’m finding it almost impossible. I’m attractive enough that I can get dates pretty easily, but they don’t ever turn into solid relationships, even when I think they are going really well. For example, I recently dated a man I met at a restaurant. He was so attentive and seemed very interested at first. I went out with him four times. We kissed a lot, but didn’t have sex. He told me how pretty I was, and how much he liked me. Then, out of nowhere, he stopped calling and texting. It’s not like he was pressuring me for sex and I said no, either. This is not an uncommon occurrence. It’s happened not only to me many times, but to several of my friends. We are baffled. We know there is supposedly a man shortage, but does that mean that they just all want to play like kids in a candy shop? Any ideas on what these men are thinking, or if they are thinking at all?

A. Well, I guess things haven’t changed much in the last 20 years, unfortunately. Yes, I’ve been a “victim” of the mysterious, disappearing man, too. In fact, this “common occurrence” is probably even more pervasive than you might think. I have two bits of good news. The first: My many experiences have afforded me a more useful perspective I can now share with you. The second: I finally found a man who never stopped calling so they do exist!

There are many reasons a man who seems interested in you may suddenly go astray. Here are my TOP 10:

1. There’s someone else in his life you don’t know about.

2. He’s got too much going on right now to get involved more seriously.

3. He’s starting to have real feelings and is too frightened to pursue them.

4. He’s unsure of his feelings (or yours) and stepping back out of fear.

5. He likes you, but not romantically, and wants to avoid confrontation about it.

6. He’s selfish and doesn’t think beyond his own desires at any given moment.

7. He’s inconsiderate and unreliable, in which case, good riddance to bad rubbish.

8. He may have realized before you did that you’re just not right for each other.

9. He likes to keep things light and fun and sensed you wanted something more serious.

10. He’s been abducted by a UFO.

Whichever one of these reasons makes you feel the best, grab onto it and assume that’s the right one, because ultimately it really doesn’t matter why he never called you back. The fact that he didn’t means he wasn’t Mr. Right.

 

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5 Ways To Tell if You’re in a Healthy Relationship

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Negotiating the road to a healthy romance can be one of the most challenging endeavors in our life. If our primary relationship with our partner is detrimental to our happiness, or worse—toxic—it can destroy the foundation of our wellbeing.  Maybe that’s why so many people share their concerns about this with me. Whether you are married, in a long-term relationship, or even just beginning to date, knowing what makes a good and solid union can be the best tool you have to finding true happiness and contentment. So if you’re ambivalent about remaining in a relationship, or wondering if it’s wise to invest your emotions in a new one, here are some positive signs to look for.

1. You communicate thoughts and feelings to each other easily and often

There’s a good reason people say that being friends first is the best way to begin a romantic relationship. (I can vouch for that!) Do you feel safe sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner, the way you would with a supportive friend? Do you receive in return a loving and thoughtful response, and the feeling that your partner will always have your back? And is your partner the first person you run to with good news, or even with bad? If so, then there’s a very good chance the two of you can forge a strong and supportive team. This will make facing life’s challenges less arduous, because you’ll bolster each other throughout them. You’ll also enjoy all the time you will be spending together, because don’t we all want to hang out with our best friends?

2. You trust each other

If you find yourself “checking up” on your partner because you have a feeling he is doing something naughty behind your back, then one of two things is happening. Either it’s true, and on some level you know it, or it’s not, but your own insecurities are rearing their ugly heads. Either way, something’s amiss and needs to be addressed. In a healthy relationship, trust is earned over a period of time and is based on the actions of your partner, the same way it would be for a close friend. When you are able to trust, you’ll be able to enjoy time away from each other without worrying that your partner is up to no good. If he has already proven himself to be an honest person who loves you and has your best interests at heart, trust will flow naturally, the way it should. If not, it may be time to move on.

3. You can fight without tearing each other down

Healthy fighting is an important part of a sturdy relationship. It should go without saying that it should NEVER be physical, but during a fight, it’s also very important that you maintain a level of verbal respect for each other. You can argue about things without attacking each other personally. It’s okay to disagree, but being truly disagreeable can be a real relationship buster. Name calling, berating, and “hitting below the belt,” should not be the way you express yourselves, because once the fight is over, you will always have those hurts between you—and those can last a lifetime.

4. Your mate enhances your life instead of draining it

It never ceases to surprise me how many people find that their greatest source of stress is sleeping next to them every night. Your home should be your castle, your comfort zone, your safe place, and if you are coming home to partner who sucks the life energy out of you, it can make it impossible to lead a happy and productive life. We all face obstacles, whether related to work, the illness of a loved one, children’s issues, etc., but if you have someone who adds love, dedication, and emotional support to the mix, hardships will feel more manageable, and good times will be even better.

5. You love each other for who you truly are

It’s important to determine if you are sincerely in love, or if your feelings are merely based on infatuation. The reason it’s so crucial, is that if it’s the latter, then you may be in for a rude awakening once the real person inevitably emerges from behind your fantasy. We all should feel comfortable being who we are, and know that our partner loves and accepts us for it. Nobody is perfect; the question is, can you live with her faults and baggage and not hold it against her? And can she do the same for you? Loving acceptance of your partner is one of the keys to a good relationship, and can help make sure that the bond you share only deepens with each passing year.


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Dealing with a self-destructive person

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Q. I really dread the holiday season and other family events because it means having to spend time with my father. I know that sounds harsh, but growing up with a father who has a drug and alcohol problem isn’t easy. Going away to college was my saving grace. Now I’m 32, on my own, and holding things together, but for some reason, whenever I have to talk to or see my father, I revert to the anxious little kid I used to be. When he’s using, he’s verbally abusive and a real jerk. He’s been to rehab many times, but it never holds. My father could never hold down a steady job, got arrested for DUIs, and cannot stop hurting himself or our family. I still love him, and it’s a horrible way to think, but I expect one day to get a call that he’s dead. Therefore, most of the time, I try to keep my distance, as you suggested to the woman with a toxic brother. During the holidays, though, and other family get-togethers (there’s a cousin’s wedding coming up), if I want to attend, I have to see him, too. Do you have any advice for dealing with a self-destructive family member?

A. I’m very sorry you are dealing with such a heartbreaking situation. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common scenario. It may or may not make you feel better to know that you’re not alone—not by any stretch! I’m wondering if you ever attended Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Some people find comfort and wisdom in support groups like those. Otherwise, staying away from toxic people, even if it’s your dad, can be helpful, too, as I suggested, but you are right, during holidays and other family events you shouldn’t have to excommunicate yourself because of him. Therefore, here are three ideas that may help you cope:

First, take care of yourself before and after the get-togethers, whether it’s talking with a therapist, meditating, going to the gym, taking a peaceful walk, or doing whatever it is that has a calming and grounding effect on you.

Second, stick to soft drinks when your father is around to make sure you “keep your wits” about you. Not only will it set a good example, but it will help you to act responsibly should an unfortunate situation develop.

And third, when you are together with your family, focus on the positive. Maintain conversations with those you can speak easily to. Compliment the people responsible for cooking and decorating. And when conversing with your father, keep the conversation as light, pleasant, and non-controversial as possible. If he begins to act out anyway, diffuse the situation by going into another room for a while or walking away to chat with another family member or friend. Don’t engage!

One thing I’m glad to see, is that you don’t seem to be so intertwined with him, or have that unrealistic sense of control that makes people become enablers or victims of addicts. It seems like you’ve learned to avoid the emotional turmoil and “detach with love” as the aforementioned support groups teach. That’s a great accomplishment for a child of an addict, so give yourself a pat on the back for staying strong—and for knowing that ultimately, only he can save himself.

 

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If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at

loveahappyending.com@gmail.com

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