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Tell Me About It

Eek! Sounds like one really tortured couple

By CAROLYN HAX
Published December 23, 2006


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Q: I've been dating a girl for a few months now, and things have been going well. The other night she came into my work while I was busy and went around with her digital camera showing everyone something. When I finally had time to see what the fuss was all about she showed me a video she had made. While cleaning a house she caught a mouse in a chip bag. The video shows her transferring the mouse from the chip bag into a Ziploc bag and then sealing the bag. The mouse struggles to escape, stops struggling for a while, and then finally breaks free from the bag and flees under a stove. I was appalled at the video and told her so. She said it was no big deal, people kill mice all the time which I admitted to having done with traps, the mouse didn't die and no one else was bothered by it. I don't even know what to say. She tortured the mouse on purpose, filmed it and then showed the video around. I'm so disgusted on so many levels I'm at a loss for words. Can you put some perspective on this?

A: People kill mice all the time, but some take care to ensure the mice don't suffer, and some feel bad about it even then. Your mountain is just the right size. Cruelty auteurs don't make promising girlfriends.

Resist the temptation

Q: I recently broke up with my boyfriend of one year because he has a lot of unresolved issues. We have talked endlessly about his anger, his drinking and his depression, and finally I had to leave because he would not get help. My therapist thought it was wise that I set boundaries and then stuck to them. Now that we're apart though, he has started counseling and has told me he really wants to change and wants me back. He wants one more chance (of course), but I told him that we can only be friends. Part of me wants to stay in contact because I really want to see if he's willing to change, but the more sensible part knows I have to walk away so he does it for himself and not me. But a little nagging codependent voice in my head keeps saying I left just when he was finally doing it. Any thoughts?

A: No, you need to walk away so he does it without sucking you back into the hole you just barely escaped.

It's not that, shucks, you gave up and left the station just when the train finally came. Your leaving the station didn't cause the train to arrive.

But your quitting as his chief enabler most likely did precipitate his sudden push for improvement. And since your recent emotional history has you being charmed by (and trying to rescue) an angry, hard-drinking depressive - despite yourself, enough to put you in a therapist's office discussing your ability to set boundaries - it's probably wise to leave the bait untouched and walk hard toward the opposite pole.

Tell me about it! E-mail tellme@washpost.com fax (202) 334-5669; write "Tell Me About It," c/o the Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Washington Post Writers Group

[Last modified December 22, 2006, 10:03:25]


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