Ask Amy: Girlfriend wants off the emotional roller coaster

March 19, 2012

DEAR AMY: I’ve been with my boyfriend for five months. Things were amazing with us, so after two months of dating we moved in together.

At first things were better than ever, but then all of a sudden he halted the intimacy and started going out with the guys every night, not getting home until two in the morning.

Whenever I calmly bring up the fact that I want to see him and spend time with him, he gets angry. He thinks he’s bipolar (which I could imagine); he will rant for hours about how I need to be more understanding when he wants guy time.

He works all day and comes home, eats a home-cooked meal I have prepared for him and then leaves. I only see him when he’s sleeping.

I start thinking that things won’t work out, but then he comes home and is fine and acts like nothing happened. He plays mind games, and if I talk to him about it, I’m in the wrong. What should I do? -- Terribly Upset

DEAR UPSET: You should not have moved in together after such a short time dating.

I think it’s safe to assume that your guy thinks he’s bipolar because he is. You should ask him if he has ever received a diagnosis or if he has ever sought treatment for this or another mental illness.

Bipolar disorder is treatable, but if he is acting very erratically, thinks he has this potentially serious illness and is doing nothing about it, then you cannot help him very much.

His moods and behavior will continue rising and falling like a roller coaster ride until he takes some steps to control or modulate his behavior with the help of a professional.

If he is drinking every night when he is out with the guys, this will make things worse for him. Ranting at you for hours is abusive.

You should seek a more amenable living situation for yourself. You should not live together unless you can offer each other a stable, peaceful environment. As it is, you seek stability and he runs from it.

DEAR AMY: My ex-husband and I split up 20 years ago, but remained good friends. We have two grown sons together. He’s been dating “Mary” off and on for a couple of years now. She’s younger and wants children.

He’s told me he doesn’t really want any more children, but he likes being in a relationship. Mary doesn’t approve of our friendship, so we no longer have family dinners and outings together. I can understand her jealousy and have graciously accepted this.

Now his interaction with our sons has changed. He’s verbally abusive to them one minute, then it’s “Hey, Buddy” the next. He’s been doing this for the last three months. I explain his odd behavior by saying he’s going through a midlife crisis.

I know this man very well. He’s always been a little immature. I suspect he’s mad at himself for leading this woman on and ending our longtime friendship, and he is taking it out on the boys, who are too kindhearted to put him in his place.

I’d like to stay out of it, but my boys’ feelings are my business. What would you suggest? -- Upset Ex

DEAR EX: Your boys’ feelings are not really your business. Their feelings are their business.

You can help to mediate this by encouraging your sons to talk to their father about his behavior.

You should speak with your ex about his actions. If he can’t muster up the maturity to treat his sons with the respect they deserve, then he will damage the relationship. It is far easier to find another woman to be with than another set of sons.

DEAR AMY: “A Worried Mom” was frustrated because her daughter couldn’t succeed on standardized college entrance tests and thus couldn’t get into a four-year college.

It is possible to get into a great college without taking these tests. The answer is to go to community college first! I know -- I did it. -- Educated Reader

DEAR READER: I am a fervent advocate for community colleges, which offer great educational opportunities at a terrific value.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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