DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have been involved in a relationship for the past 7 years with a man to whom I kept at a distance for 5 of those years. Once he moved in with me I noticed he had a bad addiction to alcohol.
Most of the time, things were fine. He worked, he helped with the bills and we were still close. We danced on the sidewalks, we sang together we played together, but the problem is that his drinking spun out of control.
While I was in the process of remodeling my home, his drinking was at a all time high. He hit me, then swore he would never to do this again. I believed him.
Two months later when cooking in the kitchen, the dark side took over he grabbed me by the hair threw me to the ground and choked me to the point that I saw white and feeling like I was passing out and losing control. During this I bit his finger as hard as I could, and pinched him until I drew blood. Once he let go I got up and had three blows to the back of my head. I called the police and had him arrested.
How could all of this come from someone I loved?
The thing is, he was drunk off his ass when he did this to me. He spent 3 months in jail. He is now in treatment and has not drank a drop since then. He is in therapy and doing great. We can speak on the phone, we can text, but the courts have a partial no contact order.
My older kids have stated they will not speak with me if I give this man another chance. I love him, and he is doing great with rehab. When he’s sober, he’s the great guy I have known him for over 30 plus years — since high-school, really.
Do you have any suggestions in this regard? I feel torn and confused.
Lisa’s Being Torn Apart
DEAR LISA’S BEING TORN APART: Yes, I have a suggestion. You delete his number, his email, block him on every form of social media, put everything of his in a box and ship it somewhere else, and then get the ever-loving hell away from him. You hop the Nope Train to F
kThatSh*tVille with stops in OhHellNo and ByeFelipe and be grateful he didn’t hurt you worse.
It’s very sweet that you’re such a forgiving soul. I try to be as well. I like to believe that people can change. But, I’m sorry: I’m glad he’s doing great with rehab but when someone is trying to choke you to unconsciousness (IF NOT, Y’KNOW TRYING TO KILL YOU) and hitting you in the head, he’s out of chances.
That’s a “get the hell out of Dodge” clause right then and there. Do not pass Go, do not believe his promises to be better. Assault, battery and attempted murder are all relationship extinction level events and I don’t care how good he is now that he’s sober again.
I would suggest buying yourself a copy of The Gift of Fear and Why Does He Do That? and read up on abusers and abuse tactics. There’s almost always a honeymoon period (or several periods) after abuse – especially if it involves things like court-mandated rehab and jail time – where the abuser promises things are better and is the same person you loved before.
Is he truly better? Well, in an infinite universe, anything is theoretically possible. But not only am I severely inclined to doubt it in this case, it’s also a case involving horrific assaults on top of everything else. I’ve seen folks who’ve acted like that and made a big hew and cry about how much better they were. Guess what? They were still manipulative bastards afterwards and kept at it.
Thank your lucky damn stars that you’re no longer with him, and get him out of your life and never look back.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been working at my current company a little over a year, and basically developed feelings for this coworker. I had thought initially that she was interested in me as well, which is what resulted in me asking her out to coffee.
Well turns out, she didn’t like me, and nicely rejected me by saying that she was “talking with someone else” and didn’t feel like it was fair to me to go out with me as well. I was pretty stunned, as I had been pretty sure that she was indeed interested in me (She had asked about me, if I was in a relationship e.t.c).
Regardless of the reasons, or what was there or wasn’t, I got rejected, and that should’ve been the end of the story. There was a bit of awkwardness between us for a few days, but we relaxed back into just friendly coworkers.
I actually started to move on, joined a dating site, and began looking elsewhere (as one should). Now here’s where one of my most stupid mistakes to date happened.
See, this coworker of mine, was on the site as well, and turned up as one of my best matches. I was perplexed, confused, and had the stupid idea that maybe the thing with the other guy hadn’t worked out.
So I asked her out via the dating site messaging… again.
In retrospect that was the most bone-headed move ever, and it got about the same result as you’d expect. Turns out the the rejection before had just been a “soft” no (as you’ve talked about at length here), rather than her just not being interested in me at all.
To say I felt ashamed and stupid was putting it mildly. I had basically failed to take the hint the first time, and just unintentionally badgered this girl a second time.
She nicely said no in her message but her attitude at work changed quite a bit. She’s now completely ignoring me and everything to do with me. Which is problematic because we’re both kind of in the same area, albeit on different teams. There is a pretty evident source of anger, avoidance and just flat out annoyance it feels like now.
And the thing is I get why. I messed up, I realize that, but what I’m confused about is what I should do now. I can’t exactly leave my job at the moment or transfer to another department, and my instincts are telling me to just apologize to her somehow and fix this.
She clearly DOES have a problem with the fact that I asked her out twice, which, you know, fair enough. But I’m not exactly sure how to resolve this.
Do I ask her for a second of her time and just promptly apologize in person? Do I send an e-mail? We’re friends on Facebook, should I apologize there?
Or… Should I just leave everything alone and just try and deal with it. It’s getting exceedingly uncomfortable and awkward, to the point where it’s starting to not only look odd, but is bothering me as well.
What should I do Doc? I really am at a loss for what to do? I don’t want to make things worse and make her want to call HR or something like that. I’m decently experienced with turning people down and being turned down, but this workplace thing has me really confused.
I’d appreciate some of your insight on the matter.
Trying to Fix This
DEAR TRYING TO FIX THIS: Dude. Things were fine when you asked her out and she turned you down. It was a little awkward at first but you acted like things were no big deal and everyone was happy.
Then you had to go and screw it all up by trying again, this time via a dating site.
Not gonna lie man: that sort of thing can feel a little less like “boneheaded mistake” and more “are you trying to find me everywhere I go?”
Yeah, I know you didn’t mean it that way. You know you didn’t mean it that way. But you have to look at it from her perspective: you didn’t take “no” for an answer and then went out of your way to ask her out somewhere else.
The biggest issue here is that you’re co-workers. You see each other every day. Imagine if you hadn’t seen her on Tinder or Plenty of Fish or whatever but you ran into her at a seedy singles bar and hit on her there. That’s going to feel uncomfortable to folks, like you’ve been putting on this persona at work but now that you’re not there, rules change. You didn’t even bring it up in person, just sprung it on her out of the clear blue sky.
The fact that you approached her online was just a little weird, even if you didn’t have that first rejection under your belt. So now it’s a little like “hey, found you here!” and “so, now that I know where you hang out, how about that date?”
So what do you do?
Well, you just let it go. I get that you want to apologize, but part of apologizing means doing it in a way that doesn’t make things even more uncomfortable and awkward. What she almost certainly wants, more than anything else, is to put this whole uncomfortable situation down the memory hole and pretend it never happened. The kindest thing you can do for her is do just that: pretend it didn’t happen and just give her space.
While you and I both know that this isn’t your intention, there are plenty of sketchy dudes out there who’ll use apologies – especially very profuse, over the top ones – as ways to make the person getting the apology feel guilty or as a way to continue bugging the person they’re supposedly apologizing to.
You know it was weird. She knows it was weird. Trying to make up for the weirdness is only going to make it weirder and even more uncomfortable. Give her the room to be uncomfortable. Be friendly, but a bit distant. Let her decide when she’s comfortable again and make the move to talk with you again – if she decides she wants to, in any case.
The rule for avoiding weirdness is “Don’t start none, won’t be none”. So now you’re going to just have to go back and pretend like you didn’t see her on there and hadn’t had this awkward moment. Don’t bring it up unless she does specifically. Not “hints at it” or “says things that may be related to it” but specifically says “hey, it was a bit weird when you approached me on OKCupid” or whatever. Until then: it never happened and the two of you are cordial co-workers.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)