DEAR NATALIE: At the beginning of our relationship, my partner shared with me that he has a terminal disease with very little time left. I love him and decided to enter into a relationship with him. (We had been in a relationship a long time ago but had lost touch). We have many problems because of his diagnosis in addition to his mental health issues, for which he is medicated. My question is this: Do I put up with his behavior because of his emotional and physical issues, or do I treat him as I would without these problems? I feel he weaponizes his ongoing problems, using them as an excuse for bad behavior, i. e. publicly embarrassing me, PDA, being selfish, raising his voice at me, etc.I just don't know how to handle these issues without him pointing out that he's dying! Help! – SEEKING SANITY
DEAR SEEKING SANITY: I am so sorry that you and your partner are going through such uncertain and tumultuous times together. Any illness takes a toll on an otherwise solid relationship – but throwing in mental health issues and a terminal diagnosis – it would make any relationship challenging. You need to seek therapy. Preferably both for yourself and for you and your partner together. It is OK to feel frustrated, guilty, angry with the situation, scared and overwhelmed. It is not OK for him to take his fears and frustrations out on you. Talk to him openly and honestly about where you are. Let him know that you love and care for him and that you would like to see a therapist together and individually to help navigate this uncharted territory. Regardless of whether he is willing to work on himself and your relationship, you should seek counseling on your own. There is so much to process here, and having more tools in your toolbox will only help strengthen your relationship, as well as your own mental health. I wish you luck and love.
DEAR NATALIE: My close friend and I recently had a terrible falling out after 30-plus years of friendship. I have realized over the years that unless it is about her, she doesn’t seem to care. She doesn’t ask me about things going on in my life and doesn’t seem to know much. However, when she has an issue or needs support, she expects you at any moment to pick up the phone and be there for her. We got into a terrible argument on the phone, with me calling out her bad habits and her calling me “toxic” among other things. I hung up on her. A few days later, she sent me this vicious text message. I didn’t respond. And now she has sent me an apology text. More like a book. I haven’t responded. After how she treated me, I don’t feel like there’s anything to say. My sister says I should hear her out after such a long time as friends. But what friend screams at their friend on the phone and writes them such horrible things? I don’t know if I want to move forward with this friendship. What do you think? – FRIENDSHIP DOWN THE DRAIN
DEAR FRIENDSHIP DOWN THE DRAIN: The demise of a long term friendship can be difficult to mourn because you aren’t just mourning the relationship but how that relationship defined a portion of your life. When you reflect back, the specific time frame can create a sense of nostalgia and wistfulness which are hard to let go of. But the reality is – in the here and now – would you be friends with this person? Put your history aside. Would you be friends with someone who can’t look outside of themselves, who is careless with your friendship, who refuses to look at things from a different perspective? Would you be friends with someone who resorts to name calling when they are held accountable for their behavior? If the answer is, “NO,” then you may want to sit with that for a while. While I believe in second chances, it sounds as though there isn’t much to hold onto. Leave it be for now. If she circles back in a month or a few months from now truly remorseful, then consider having a conversation. But if over those months you realize your life is fine without her, the question remains: Why invite the negativity back in? You can wish her well – and from a distance.
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