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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

OnLine Romance Goes Sour

OnLine Romance Goes Sour


Dear Dr. Irene,
Let me start by saying your web site has been a true God send for me. I was looking for answers one day on the internet as to why my boyfriend (Tony) always seemed so emotionally unbalanced, and your site just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was exactly what I was looking for.  I knew how he was treating me, but didn't know the correct words to use for it.

Tony and I met ONLINE about 4 years ago while we were both in rocky marriages. We talked, had a lot in common and I really enjoyed him because he seemed to be just an average man with an average life and loved his kids.  We lost touch for several months. My marriage finally broke up and when I ran into Troy online again one day, he told me his wife threw him out.  I guess I should have seen the red flags then, but I didn't.  He blamed her for everything, cheating, partying and staying out all night, etc.  He was the devoted dad staying home while she was out, never cheated on her (made passes at people and set up dates to meet women, but he thinks that's okay because nothing ever followed through.) 

I'm getting off track, but I felt bad for him: such a great man losing his house, possessions and kids all because of a psycho lady who wanted several different men and to party all the time.  Boy, was I told some whopper stories by him and bought them all!  He and I started dating long distance. 

I moved as close as I could to him without leaving the state (custody issue) and he moved in with me.  It was about an hour away from his job and kids, but he made the drive daily for about a year.  We have been together for 3 years.  I have lived in the town he grew up in for about a year so he can be close to work and family. 

We had broken up because of his lack of desire to have a committed relationship & his inability to love me like I wanted and deserved, but he said he could be a better person with me if I moved here and he didn't have the burden of driving so much.  We'll, I'm here and it's just as terrible here if not worse. His entire family is here.  He doesn't need to discuss his wrong doings with me, he just runs to his mother or sisters. 

He won't go to his father as quickly because his dad likes me and sees what Tony is destroying with me. Dad tries to set him straight and he doesn't like that. So he gets mad at me because dad yelled at him instead of telling him he's a good boy and no woman is ever going to be good enough like his mother tells him.  His mother is a whole issue in itself that I don't have the time to get into here.   Anyway, whenever I do or say something as innocent as it may be, he always seems to "take it" differently from what I meant.  He said I say it with an attitude which I don't think I do.  If I don't say or do everything to the standards in his head, he distances himself from me and starts doing things he knows I can't stand - he's even attempted to meet women on the internet for "long term relationships"!

I'm a single mom of 3 great daughters.  I pay all my own bills, I work 2 jobs and am so tired of making all the sacrifices in this relationship.  I've talked with a counselor about this. She confirmed my suspicions of "verbal abuse" and told me he will never change - so stop trying to help him change by giving him everything and loving him into changing.  His ex wife and I are now friends and we talk about the abuse. She didn't know it had a name, but said they broke up several times in 12 years. He always came back apologizing.  She and I have/had the same issues with him.  We told him to stop saying "I LOVE YOU" and "I'M SORRY" because he doesn't know what either of them truly mean.  

Now, my questions to you:  I have once again stopped seeing him and I'd love to think it's for good this time.  Can he truly love me or anyone and just not know how to treat them right? Why are you asking this question? Is it OK to mistreat people if you love them? And will my daughters grow up and be "victims" from watching me in this relationship for 3 years?  I try to do the best I can for them to raise them right and give them a normal life, but I think this relationship could have lasting effects on them as well.  They care about Tony, but for 3 years, he wouldn't bother to get close to them because he has 2 daughters of his own and doesn't need 3 more.  (And yes, as piggish as that sounds, those are his words.)  His daughters have a lot of problems, thumb sucking at 12, bedwetting at 9, attitudes all the time. They talk back, disobey him and just have no respect for him - and that's okay with him. He loves them, they love him and that's all that matters to him. I'm sorry to be so lengthy with this, I'm sure you know I could go on all day.  I'm just concerned about my daughters with all of this.  Thanks for your site Dr. Irene, it's been a great help to me and a big step in getting me started with a normal life again.
Sincerely, Kay

Dear Kay,

There are no formulas, no guarantees Kay. Raise two different kids in the same exact house, and they often grow up with two entirely different views of the same life. Don't waste your time worrying about things you cannot change. You did the best you could at the time you did it. Learn from your past and spend your energy becoming the best person you can be now - be the best role model you are capable of being for your kids. Its OK for them to know you are OK dealing with life and the difficult choices life often brings.  

You did yourself a favor by consulting with a therapist. Ask this person about helping the kids make sense of their experience of Tony. Perhaps a series of family discussions or family sessions would help (e.g., why we moved, why Tony no longer lives with us, how each child feels about the past few years, etc.). Better they talk about their feelings than pretend they don't have any!

In any case, you are on the right track. Good luck to you and my very best wishes,   Dr. Irene