DEAR HARRIETTE: Whenever my boyfriend and I fight, he usually ends up throwing something and breaking it. I understand that he feels frustrated by a difficult conversation, but I end up replacing the item or making do without. I can’t exactly give my boyfriend an invoice for everything he’s ever broken! He usually breaks smaller things, like jars or television remotes. His lack of respect for my belongings in the heat of the moment just makes me angrier and escalates the fight. How can I get him to stop doing this? I know I shouldn’t try fighting fire with fire. -- Pitcher’s Arm, Cleveland
DEAR PITCHER’S ARM: Step back a moment and think about what is happening. Your boyfriend is violent. It is not normal for someone to throw and break things in the heat of an argument. It shows clear lack of control over his emotions. Someone who throws and breaks things on a regular basis is likely to hurt you in some way one day, even if it’s unintentional. You need to evaluate whether you are safe in this relationship. As confident as you may feel, I want to challenge you to look ahead to the future. What if you decide to stay with this man? What if you choose to have children with him? Will you be comfortable with him throwing things at you in the company of your children?
I know these are intense questions, but they are real. Think about your future, and then take action. You can attempt to talk to your boyfriend and make it clear that you can’t stay with him if he doesn’t stop the violence. Do yourself a favor: When you say that to him, be in a public place. You do not want him to hurt you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Do you think couples in relationships should be allowed to search through each other’s phones? I know of some couples who swear by it and do it randomly by looking through messages, calls, photos and social media on the significant other’s phone. Other couples have deemed it rude and invasive. Who is right here? Is it modern-day protocol to share phone passcodes just because you are in a relationship? -- Where’s the Line, Tupelo, Mississippi
DEAR WHERE’S THE LINE: What you are essentially asking about is trust and how you maintain it in a relationship. Sneaking and checking your partner’s emails does not seem like a trusting action. If you feel uncertain about your relationship and, therefore, feel the need to check to see what your partner is doing, that is a good sign that something is terribly wrong.
I recommend speaking to your partner first before starting your sleuthing. Be courageous and ask if there’s something you should be worried about. Directly ask if your partner wants to be involved still or if things are uncertain between you.
I will add that looking at your partner’s social media posts is certainly OK. These are public postings that anyone with permission can view. If you are blocked from your partner’s social media, that in and of itself should be a sign that something is wrong in your relationship.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)