30 second therapist

Late-night calls from a 'friend' are hurting my relationship

Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM ET

This week, one reader says another woman calls her boyfriend in the middle of the night, while another asks if she should leave her emotionally abusive husband. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series. 

Q: I've been with my boyfriend for over a year. This girl continuously calls and texts my boyfriend during the night. I told him it upset me because I have never met this girl. He said they’re "just friends." Yet, she still calls him. He said he told her to stop calling him so late because he has a girlfriend and it’s rude. She stopped for a little while, but she’s started calling and texting him again when she’s drunk. The messages are, "What are you doing?," "Why aren’t you out drinking?," or "Have you heard this song before?" I made him answer the phone one time and she was clearly slurring her words. It's frustrating me. What should I do? —Late Night Interruption

Dear Late Night,

You ask, “What should I do?” Girlfriend, it’s not your job to do anything! If your guy wanted the interrupter to cease and desist, she would. If they have even a “just friends” relationship, she’d respect his wishes. But face it! He’s gaining a huge ego boost from all the attention.

This annoying issue may be a symptom of a greater malady. You exposed your feelings, and as Ed Bacon writes in “8 Habits of Love,” “Candor helps you go beyond the surface.” So, your question must now be, “Are my boyfriend’s ego needs greater than his feelings for me?” Your answer will determine where to go from here. —Dr. Gilda   

Q: I have been married for 18 years to a man who has emotionally and verbally abused me. We have two children 13 and 14 years old. Finally, I said, “No more!” and started seeing a therapist to learn to set better boundaries. My boundaries are still being crossed, and I am emotionally drained. Our children have also been verbally abused. The abuse has lessened, but has not been eliminated. My question is, how much time is needed to see if my husband can improve and treat me with the respect I deserve? My therapist says he is emotionally immature. —Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

If you were truly “fed up” with the abuse, you’d be gone! You were right to seek help to “set better boundaries”—but that’s only scratching the surface. Along with boundary-setting should come the proviso of what you’ll do if your limits are trespassed. Simply blaming hubby as “emotionally immature” is a copout. Either you are getting some payoff from remaining and complaining, or you’re giving him the power to change--someday. Whatever your motive, you’re teaching your kids that men can get away with abusing women! That’s not okay! If your therapist is not serving your needs, find another! But memorize this Gilda-Gram, “When being abused, forget a 12-step program. Do this two-step: Get up, get out!” —Dr. Gilda

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Send them in!

Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.

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