Hi, Dr. NerdLove:
I read your column quite often, and I’m really hoping you can help me.
I have been in a relationship with a severe alcoholic for almost 8 years. We have a seven year old son, who is absolutely wonderful. My son’s father is a decent enough person. In fact, once upon a time, I thought I was in love. But when he drinks, he is emotionally and psychologically abusive towards me, and he is neglectful with our son. On the weekends, he starts drinking first thing in the morning, and continues all day and night through to Sunday. I have stopped sleeping in the same room as him, since I am either sexually assaulted, or I wake up in a puddle of piss. I’ll keep out all of the rest of the gory details in the name of being succinct, but suffice it to say, he is a text-book alcoholic. And to top it all off, his family blames EVERYTHING on me. And he and I are both in our 40’s.
This is my current dilemma: last Sunday, he went into the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. I didn’t hear for him for a few days, so I had to track down his mother to find out what was going on. Come to find out, he has pneumonia, a kidney infection, and his liver is starting to fail, all due to alcohol.
My problem is…I just don’t care. In fact, I do not want him to move back in with us if and when he gets out of the hospital. I know he’s not going to stop drinking, and I am very, very tired of putting up with his alcoholic bs, and getting guilt trips from his family. In fact, last year he went into detox/rehab three or four times. The last time he got out, he went to live with his mother…WHO ASKED HIM TO BUY BEER FOR HER ON A REGULAR BASIS. And still, it’s my fault.
His mother has been asking if I am going to go see him in the hospital, and I absolutely do not want to. I am so so so so pissed that he is putting my son and myself through this, and the financial burden this is putting on me. Plus, he never got around to getting health insurance, and it looks like he’ll be in the hospital for weeks.
My question is, am I a horrible person because I just don’t care anymore? His mother told me there is a chance he may not survive…and I feel nothing. If anything, I feel relieved. I don’t want him back in our lives, and if his side of the family can’t accept that, then I guess my son loses out on that side of the family. Not a single one of them asked us how we’re doing. And our son is telling people in school that he hates his father (please know I DO NOT say anything bad about his father in front of him…). I just don’t know the best way to handle this.
So Sick of His Shit
NO, SSOHS, you’re not a horrible person. You’re someone who’s in a horrible situation and you’ve been ground down so far that you’re numb.
I think you already know what you need to do and you’re just waiting for someone to give you permission. So, permission granted: DIVORCE HIM ALREADY.
I get why you haven’t packed your bags and cut all ties; leaving someone who’s at such a low point feels callous and cold. It makes you feel like a failure, like you haven’t tried hard enough. I imagine there’s a part of you that says that if you were strong enough you could not only get through this but pull him back from the brink too. Except… that ain’t happening. You know it. I know it. At some level, he probably knows it. But here’s the thing: there’s weathering the hard times and then there’s tying yourself to the mast of a rapidly sinking ship. Wedding vows aren’t a suicide pact. “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health” doesn’t obligate you to destroy yourself (and your son!) because your husband is determined to flame out and doesn’t care about the damage he’s doing to the people around him.
So fuck him and fuck his toxic, enabling family. It’s not your job to save him – especially when it means taking all of the damage he’s been inflicting on you and your family. This guy is killing himself by inches and he is dragging you down with him. Pack up your things and your son, call a divorce attorney and get the hell out. Cut those ties, particularly the financial ones, as soon as you can so that he can’t hurt you any further on his downward spiral. And as soon as you’re out of the house, you may want to give some consideration to finding an Al-Anon or other support group meeting in your area.
This is not your fault. This is not your responsibility. You need to save yourself and your son and get out.
Good luck. And write back to let us know how you’re doing.
Hey Dr. NerdLove,
I was hoping you could address my issue of having endless first dates. I can be pretty shy / quiet around people I don’t know, so I’m not the kind of person to go up and talk to random strangers. The most success I’ve had with getting dates has been online. I’m much better initiating a conversation by just sending a message. And I find it a lot easier to talk to a girl after I can read her profile and go through all the initial messaging with her.
The very first girl I went out with when I moved here, became my girlfriend for a little less than a year. But it’s been a tough road since then. In the 2 years since we broke up, I’ve had at least 30 first dates. I ended up seeing one of them for a few months, and I hooked up with 2 other girls.
Now here’s my issue. Maybe I’m wrong, but 2 out of 30 doesn’t seem like a great success rate. There’s been a lot of them that I haven’t been into, and even more that haven’t been into me. I have even been ditched within 5 minutes on a date (fun story!). Let me tell you how good that is for your self confidence. But it ends up being like groundhogs day, with me going on a date after date with the same results. Nothing.
Most people think I’m pretty funny, I think I’m reasonably attractive (although I do have some self confidence issues), I’m nice, I have a good job, good car, I eat well, I exercise, I think I have a lot of cool qualities about myself. And I’ve been on so many dates that I don’t get nervous anymore, so I have no idea why it seems impossible for me to meet the right girls.
So I ask you doctor, is it normal to go on so many dates and end up with no results? If not, what the hell is wrong with me? Or is this an issue with online dating?
Thanks for any advice you can give me, and keep up the great work with the site and podcasts!!
The King of First Dates
First of all, KOFD, let me point out that you’re actually doing a pretty good job; getting those first dates can be tough for a lot of folks. So give yourself some credit: you’re putting yourself out there and clearly people like what you have to offer. The problem that you’re running into is, more than likely, simply an inevitable frustration that comes up a lot with online dating: the dates that go nowhere.
That, unfortunately, is part and parcel when it comes with dating in general and online dating in particular; a lot of times, there’s just not going to be enough attraction from that first date for the other person to be interested in a second. It’s not anyone’s fault other than you’re just not compatible with one another. C’est la vie. This is especially true when it comes to online dating. When we see people in person, we tend to mentally slot them into “attracted” and “not attracted” fairly quickly, almost before we even realize it. A lot of that is because there are tons of little things that we pick up on subconsciously that can affect whether or not we’re even interested in someone before we even talk to them – everything from the sound of their voice to the way they treat waitstaff to how they smell. As a result: there’re people we just don’t approach because stuff happening in the background of our brains says “nah”. But when it comes to online dating, you don’t get those little signals of incompatibility. As a result, you end up meeting people who may be perfectly lovely and a good match on paper but who you don’t click with in person.
Now, there’re a number of things you can do to troubleshoot your dating life and minimize the number of fades and go-nowhere first dates and help make sure you get a second. With online dating, I suggest that you consider implementing a pre-date date. I go into more depth about this strategy in When It Clicks, but here it is in a nutshell: arrange a brief (30 minutes or so) “getting to know you” session at a coffee shop. This helps ensure that there’s enough attraction in person to warrant a proper date before you both make a significant investment of time. If things don’t work, then you’re just out a half hour and a couple bucks for coffee.
Otherwise, it’s inevitable that there’ll be some false positives in your dating life. The best advice I can give is to keep at it and pick interesting first dates. I especially recommend dates that get you both excited and push your heart rate up – dancing, walks, driving go-karts, etc. The things that get you excited get other parts of you excited as well… and you and your date will associate that excitement with one another, rather than the activity itself.
Dear Doctor NerdLove,
After much contemplation, I’ve decided to message you requesting advice. I find your articles incredibly helpful, and a panacea for some very toxic thinking that has plagued me for the last 8 years or so.
Let me start with a brief history. I started delving into PUA material when I was doing my doctorate in 2008. At the time I had lots of free time to go out, and at the age of 24 I was still a virgin so needed to do something about it. I had a lot of fun with it when I started and over time came out of my shell, became more social, started hitting the gym, and started getting dates and eventually losing my virginity. It was definitely the best of times.
Around 2010, however, I got into RSD’s teachings, and started going into full creep mode. I started becoming less fun and more creeper. I don’t doubt for a second today that RSD teaches some very toxic lessons. As a result some of my experiences left me scarred. I was behaving in a way that was not me, and more douchebag than social.
Around 2012, I decided that I had to stop the whole PUA thing, and have spent the last 3 years not going out and not being social, in order to thoroughly eke out all of the teachings. As a result, you can imagine, I’ve gone back to sexless mode.
My problem now is that of inaction. I remember back when I started I used to have so much fun doing cold-approaches or talking random shit to strangers to be social. More often than not, I would get great reactions which I would then pursue later. Now every time I see a cute girl, or an opportunity to be social, my thoughts always go towards: “Wait, isn’t this what a PUA would do?” or “If you do this now, you’ll be a creeper PUA again?” or “All those PUA guys just want sex. Doing this won’t get you a long-term relationship!”.
As a result I lapse into inaction, despite remembering that those precise actions used to be exhilarating. Actions like singing alone at a karaoke bar, or dancing like no tomorrow at a bar.
As a transitive result, I am becoming incapable of even putting myself into a situation where I could meet girls. I’m getting on and I’d like to have a long-term relationship with a female (my longest relationship so far has been 2 months).
Am I just being nostalgic here and am I right in thinking doing these things at my age is lame? Or do I need to get over my mindset and just do it?
I don’t want to have to go back into “I don’t give a fuck” mode, because I think that’s the kind of thinking that led me to those douchebag behaviours. But at the same time it was the “I don’t give a fuck” mentality that allowed me to have so much fun back then as well.
Gah! I feel like I’m rambling. Hope you understand my frustration and thanks for all the articles!
Stuck In Neutral
You’re overthinking things, SIN.
First of all: the problem with pick-up isn’t about making cold approaches, trying to get laid or being social, it’s in the creepy, manipulative and outright rapey bullshit that so many PUA schools advocate. You can be social and flirt with people in bars without being a creep or trying to pressure someone into touching your junk. I mean… detoxifying pick-up is kinda my jam here. I’ve just written a freaking book about doing just that. People are going to be more attracted to someone who’s fun and having fun, so go out and have a blast. You can meet women without trying to force compliance or making them jump through hoops.
Second: Where you meet someone isn’t an indicator of how long you’ll be together. Just because you met at the club doesn’t mean that she’s not a potential long-term partner. It’s compatibility and effort that matter, not how you met. Hell, there are plenty of life-long marriages that started as a one-night stand or fuckbuddy relationship. While there’s something to be said for diversifying where you meet people, if cold-approaches work for you, then more power to you. Just don’t fall back into the toxic PUA bullshit.