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My on-again-off-again boyfriend is an abusive alcoholic. Why can’t I just get over him?

The question

I was with my boyfriend for a year. The beginning was heavenly, full of intense attraction and we were inseparable. Then I found out he was an alcoholic in denial but chose to ignore it because he never drank with me. He verbally abused me and treated me like crap in arguments. The first time we broke up was because my friend saw his car outside a strip club while I was at work – working to take care of both of us because he was unemployed after a car accident. I lived one month in the hospital seeing him through all the pain and surgeries. Then it was on and off at least 15 times.

One of those times we argued and he hit me. We stayed apart for three months but reunited over Christmas last year. Both of us missed each other so much and could not move on.

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We only lasted two weeks and it was back to arguing about little things and he said he needed to focus on his daughter. I'm in so much emotional pain. I don't know how to get over him or let someone go whom I clearly don't mean the world to. I can't stop talking to him or seeing him. I miss all the little cute things we shared when times were good. I have a guy best friend who loves and deserves me but I'm not crazy about him. I wish I loved him as he loves me and life would be great.

The answer

You need to get as far away as possible as fast as possible from this guy and see as little as possible of him henceforward.

Have I made myself clear? Have I used the term "as possible" often enough? Unemployed, an alcoholic, verbally abusive, treats you like dirt, unwilling to commit, hits you – can we agree he's not exactly Prince Charming? Not Mr. Right?

I understand one thing all too well, though: You're drawn to him. It's funny – well, not funny, it's often been a source of consternation and distress for me – how God has chosen to wire us poor humans down here to be attracted to folks who are obviously dead wrong for us.

Of course there are all kinds of complex reasons women (and men) stay in abusive relationships. Sexual attraction, low self-esteem, feeling trapped, family history... But I'm not qualified to pronounce on that. And here's something else I normally hate to say (because it always seems like the ultimate advice-columnist cop-out) but I think is apropos here: Maybe seek counselling to try to figure out why you can't seem to extricate yourself from a clearly terrible situation.

Not implying it's your fault. Man do I hate dudes like this guy, and all the men in the news lately (and not in the news – at least the ones against whom the allegations are true – like him. Because it gives fodder to people who would say: "Men are [insert pejorative adjective here.]"

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But we're not all like that! Some of us are decent, respectful, and treat women well.

And you need to hold out for one of those.

Meanwhile, drop this guy like a bag of dirt (which is what it sounds like he is). "Ghost" him (fail to get back to him on every possible platform) if you have to. I don't know you but I know this: You deserve better. He's bad news and there's enough of that in your morning paper and on TV. You don't need it in your love life.

Also, sorry to say, forget this other "guy best friend" of yours as a possible mate. Getting together with him would end in tears also. It goes against what many people might say on the topic, but I say: A relationship without sexual attraction is like a car without an engine: You can push it up some hills and it'll roll down others, but it's no way to get from Point A to Point B.

(At least at first: later on in relationships, and later in life, many seem to learn to cope without it.)

No: you want it all, baby – or at least most of "it all." Of course, "it all" is obviously very rare, a Quixotic dream. But you deserve to get as close an approximation to that dream as possible.

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