DR. WALLACE: One of my good friends left our town to live with her married sister and her brother-in-law in an effort to get rid of a boyfriend she wanted to "escape" from. She emailed me that she would fill me in with the details later.
She said her boyfriend was abusing her emotionally. I really can't grasp what that means. Please tell me what constitutes emotional abuse. — Concerned Friend, Toms River, New Jersey
CONCERNED: Emotional abuse can take many forms: verbal attacks, belittlement, controlling, jealousy and threatening physical violence.
For a woman, this can mean that a male friend refuses to let her spend much time with her close friends; refuses to allow her to talk to other men; or forces her to keep a cellphone on her so that he can check on her whereabouts at any time of day or night.
When emotional abuse becomes the norm rather than the exception (such as harsh comments made during an argument), the relationship should end.
It's too bad that your good friend had to escape out of town. It's her boyfriend who should have exited the scene.
YOU DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM
DR. WALLACE: I'm a 14-year-old guy who was selected as the most valuable player on our freshman football team. I also earned a varsity letter in wrestling, which has just ended. I won eight matches and lost only two. I'm probably considered to be a pretty tough guy, but I do have a flaw.
Sad things make me cry. I don't actually sob, but I do tear up. Am I doomed to be a "crier" or will I have to see a "shrink" when I get older to get rid of this unwanted problem? — Anonymous and Embarrassed, Texas
ANONYMOUS: Young man, you don't have a problem. Crying is a natural human response to pain, sorrow and even joy. Crying indicates that you feel events deeply and are in touch with your emotions, and this is crucial for maintaining good mental health. There is nothing at all here to be ashamed about.
Society teaches boys that they should not cry and that they should be "macho." Society is sometimes wrong, and this is one example. Don't be upset that you tear up on occasion. Your tears show that you are a courageous and caring individual.
HE IS ADDICTED TO DRUGS
DR. WALLACE: I broke up with my boyfriend because of his cocaine use. He hid it at first, but I soon found out. He kept telling me he was in complete control of his drug habit and could quit anytime he wanted but that for the moment, he didn't want to stop using. This went on almost every day for the several months we were seeing each other. He lost two jobs in the time we were together, and when we split up, he was out of work and living with his brother, who is also a drug abuser.
Whenever I said to him that I thought he was addicted to cocaine, he would get upset and angry. He firmly believes he's in control of this drug use and considers himself to be a recreational cocaine user, not an addict. How does one really know? — Anonymous, Chicago
ANONYMOUS: Having worked as a counselor at a drug rehab institute myself, I can tell you that, in my opinion, your man's drug use indicates the hallmarks of an individual who is addicted to drugs. If there is a way to safely suggest to him (or to a friend or relative of his) that he should seek help with his situation, this may be the best thing you can do for him now.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.