Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. For more than 20 years, she has answered thousands of reader questions about everyday life — friendships, dating, parenting, in-laws, siblings, exes and dogs.

The Post is publishing collections of Carolyn’s columns that address familiar issues. Below are excerpts from and links to Carolyn’s columns about the flashing warning signs telling you to end a relationship.

When your partner won't stand up for you

A reader wrote to Carolyn in 2018 about their boyfriend’s brother who mocked their “chronic health condition” one weekend. The boyfriend waved off his brother’s behavior, telling the reader to “not be so sensitive.” The reader wondered whether to stay away from future family gatherings and asked Carolyn what she’d recommend.

Here’s what Carolyn said:

Being single. Sounds like an upgrade.

I’ll elaborate, but I hope you don’t need me to.

1. Your boyfriend didn’t stand up for you while his brother treated you like dirt. That’s grounds enough for dumping your boyfriend.

2. Your boyfriend found a way to blame you for it, not his brother, by calling you “too sensitive.” What other bad things that happen to you are going to be your fault over the course of your lives together? It won’t stop here, guaranteed.

3. Your way of standing up for yourself against jerk brother is to avoid jerk brother. And look who your boyfriend is annoyed at: not his brother! Nope, he’s annoyed with you.

Run, run, run. The family that created a mean-spirited George also created your boyfriend, and that usually leads to one of two outcomes: Your boyfriend is determined and careful not to be mean-spirited, knowing too well its emotional costs, or your boyfriend is mean-spirited, too. This guy has just given you ample evidence that he’s the latter, at least under pressure, which is when you least want that to be turned against you.

Read the full question and response here.

When they feel more like a client than a partner

From 2018, a reader keeps arguing over household chores with his girlfriend. The two live together and split their chores “down the middle.” Still, the reader tells Carolyn his girlfriend feels shortchanged by the agreement. She’s even tried to ban him from listening to music while tidying up.

Here’s what Carolyn said:

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Joan Crawford “Claire” is a wonderful person with some legitimate household grievance that she just hasn’t been able to articulate and therefore is putting her anger into whatever option presents itself.

Now, the argument: There comes a point where it doesn’t matter how wonderful a person is or how legitimate her grievances are because her response to them becomes too petty and despicable to explain away. “Claire has now tried to ban me from listening to music while I clean”? Because it cuts into what she sees as the required amount of suffering for your home?

Run, run, run — and not the vacuum.

Life provides enough hard work. You don’t need to date it.

Read the full question and response here.

When you want them to change but know they won't

Back in 2015, “Sad in Chicago” wrote to Carolyn about a live-in boyfriend “who can’t seem to stop ogling women.” He says she’s jealous. She says she feels disrespected. The reader asked Carolyn whether she should walk away from the relationship.

Here’s what Carolyn said:

You take him — as-is — or leave him, that’s what. You’ve got four years of experience with him to tell you whether he is a good person, whether you suit each other and whether he treats you well overall, so make up your mind.

You did have every right to say what bothered you and ask him to stop. However, once it was clear to you that he wasn’t going to change — that’s his prerogative, by the way — the onus was on you to figure out whether you could accept this aspect of him. If no, you go; we don’t have license to correct, correct, correct people who aren’t behaving exactly as we think they should.

Read the full question and response here.

When they clearly put their comfort over yours

A reader in a fairly new relationship learned that, in previous relationships, her boyfriend would often take a first-class travel upgrade, leaving his significant other behind in coach. She asked Carolyn in 2018: Is that anecdote concerning?

Here’s what Carolyn said:

“Thank you for giving me, upfront, this unobstructed view of your character.

“Now please lose my number.”

Either that, or you forfeit your right to be surprised when his self-centeredness affects you in more significant ways and after you’re much more emotionally invested. His wife sat alone in coach: His epitaph writes itself.

Read the full question and response here.


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Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.