Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Actions by girlfriend might be warning sign of abusive nature
Washington, D.C.: My girlfriend of two years hit my brother last summer when he butted into a fight we were having. We broke up then made up. She's my best friend and I love her.
Because of her actions, my brother doesn't want to be around her. Rightfully, I suppose, my friends and family flock to his house rather than mine. The problem is that I don't get to see them as much as I used to. What are my options? Do I have to break up with her to resume the life I once enjoyed?
Carolyn: Women can be abusers too, you know. Her hitting your brother plus your family's exodus from your and your girlfriend's company suggests there's a lot more here than an errant punch/shove/slap. Have you done any reading on abuse?
Anonymous: Re: Hitting girlfriend: I know it is hard to give an answer without knowing the whole story, but is it possible that we, as a society, jump too fast onto the "abuse" bandwagon.
Yes, it is good to read about abuse and see if she is an abuser — but also explore other options, such as maybe she never apologized, or he bad-mouthed her while they were broken up, and all the family agreed.
I have an abusive past (physical and sexual) so I'm not excusing abusive behavior, but for a situation that could have many reasons for behavior, I wonder why you immediately jumped to abuse and didn't point it out as one option of many?
Carolyn: I suggested he get informed about abuse. Those were carefully chosen words to direct him to find out for himself whether his girlfriend was abusive. Any other possibilities would be relevant — or, in fact, responsible — only if this relationship withstood that initial scrutiny, so I put first things first.
D.C.: Yes the girlfriend gets out of hand sometimes. I just avoid her during those times. Ninety-eight percent of the time, she is a lot of fun to be around. I just want to have fun . . . with everyone.
Carolyn: Well, that's your choice to make — but I hope, if you're male, that you've had a vasectomy or you're really expert and diligent with condoms, because the last thing you need is to create a child to be raised by someone who "gets out of hand sometimes." That would be outrageously irresponsible, because a 0- to 7-year-old can't "just avoid her during those times."
As for your family, they could be telling you, with their absence, exactly what your idea of "fun" is costing you. Maybe it's time to ask.
D.C., again: I guess you are right. I need to let her go. I just hate to give up my 98 percent ball of joy to occasionally be around friends and fam who largely spend their time with their significant others.
Carolyn: I don't think you're getting it; don't break up because I said to. Break up because there are great people out there who won't deck your brother or repel your family. Antisocial dysfunction is funny on Rescue Me, but not in real life. And "better her than nobody" is not a path to healthy relationships. My answer stands: Please read up on abuse.