DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is incredibly sweet and kind to me, but he’s often mean to strangers and can be very aggressive and angry. Some examples: I’m moving in with him, and we are giving a lot of furniture to the poor. One couple, who had agreed to take a couch, decided not to. He yelled at them and told them they were going back on their word and causing him problems, so they agreed to take it anyway.
Another example: We are dancers, and when someone got in his way on the dance floor, he yelled at them and called them names. I’m afraid he’s going to make himself hated in class. In traffic he yells and swears at everyone. I’m worried he’ll start to lose patience with me like this. Can you please give me some advice? — NERVOUS IN THE NORTH
DEAR NERVOUS: Your boyfriend may be sweet and kind to you, but he has an anger management problem and a low tolerance for frustration. You are right to be concerned that one day he will unload on you.
Tell him you care about him, but you view his volatility as a danger to your relationship, and it may also hold him back in future employment. Urge him to get help for it. Without help, the problem will only get worse.
DEAR ABBY: A child in my son’s second-grade class goes by the name “Sir _____ _____,” and if anyone leaves out “Sir,” he corrects them (and not very nicely). The family claims the child has been knighted, but the details become vague when asked.
Abby, I did some digging around. This child’s name isn’t on the official British list of knighted citizens. It’s impossible to inherit the title “Sir” and basically unheard of for an American 7-year-old boy to legitimately be given the title. I feel titles should be earned (such as “Dr.,” “Captain,” or “Mrs.”), not made up to generate a sense of power over those around you. May I tell my son it’s OK not to use this bogus title? — KNIGHTED SECOND-GRADER?
DEAR KNIGHTED: I don’t recommend it. The kid may have been given the name “Sir” by his parents at birth, just as the children of certain celebrities have been named “Prince” or “Your Majesty.” If your son prefers not to address the boy by name, he’s free not to address him at all.
DEAR ABBY: My significant other and I have been together for 25 years. I am a youthful 71; he is 59. Until recently I could cope with our age difference, but it has become a problem when we dine in restaurants. The server will often place the bill in front of me. I am not certain if I should be angry or insulted. How do I correct this faux pas without embarrassing my partner? — LUCKY LADY IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR LUCKY LADY: It should not embarrass your significant other if you tell the presumptuous server that your escort is picking up the check. Alternatively, it wouldn’t hurt your S.O. to speak up and ask that it be handed to him. If there’s a question in a server’s mind about who will be paying the bill, it should be placed in the middle of the table.
DEAR ABBY: I am 26. My mom recently got my boyfriend sent to jail. We met six months ago. After a month, he started verbally abusing me, which progressed to physical abuse. Each time I was sure I was about to die.
He is now locked up for kidnapping, false imprisonment and aggravated assault. Mom had had enough of hearing about the abuse and took matters into her own hands. I didn’t want her to call the police because I don’t feel jail is right for people except killers.
I understand she wanted to protect me because I kept going back, but now I cry every day worrying about if he is safe in jail and wondering how he’s feeling. Everybody around me is saying I don’t need to worry about him because he didn’t care about how he made me feel. I think it’s heartless to say that.
When he got arrested, I was in awful pain with my neck and back, but all I could think about was him. People are telling me I need counseling, but I don’t think it will help, because at the end of the day I will still think about him and worry about him.
I don’t think the cops and my mom took into consideration how this would affect me mentally. I’m depressed and can’t stop wondering if my boyfriend is OK because I’m a really good and nice person, and it sucks. I am going to go to counseling because I know I need to do it, but Abby, how do I eventually not think about him and his well-being and be heartless like him? — HAVING A HARD TIME IN GEORGIA
DEAR HARD TIME: I believe you are a good and nice person, but you are also one who is very mixed up right now. If you think your abuser loved you, you are mistaken. Men who treat women the way he treated you not only don’t love women, they don’t even LIKE them. Had your mother not done what she did, you could be dead.
If you want an example of what love is, love is doing something to help your daughter, knowing it may alienate her forever, but doing it anyway to save her life. I’m pleased you have agreed to counseling because you need it very much. After you have gone for a while, your emotional dependence on your abuser will dissipate. He is exactly where he belongs, and you need to get on with your life.
DEAR ABBY: Five months ago, my husband and I suffered a miscarriage. We had been trying to have a baby for six years, and we were over the moon excited. We waited 12 weeks to tell any friends or family, but we ended up having complications and losing our little one at 22 weeks.
My problem is some of our friends. I’m sure they mean well, but they continue to ask if we are trying again or if I’m expecting, and some keep insisting that I’m pregnant and that I should take a pregnancy test. It’s soul crushing. What can I say when they ask me next time that will stop them from asking in the future? We will certainly tell them when it happens, but I don’t want to discuss it until then. — CHANGING THE SUBJECT
DEAR CHANGING: Please accept my sympathy for your loss. The most appropriate way to handle these intrusive and insensitive questions (and comments) would be to tell them exactly what you told me in the last sentence of your letter and repeat it as necessary.