Get a grip! Green is not a pretty or flattering thing to be


Q: I love my boyfriend, but whenever he even speaks about another girl, friend or not, I get insanely jealous. I don't want to feel that way, but I always get the feeling that I might lose him to another girl. He tells me not to worry, but that's the way I am. What can I do to stop feeling so jealous?

A: Jealousy is a mix of insecurity and possessiveness, and it can ruin a perfectly good relationship. At first it may seem flattering to be so prized that your love gets a severe case of the greens at the mere thought of someone else, but after a while having a jealous lover is a nuisance -- and worse, a millstone around the neck.

Try putting yourself in your boyfriend's shoes the next time he mentions another girl, and act the way you would want him to act: mature, composed, sure of what the two of you share. If you allow your jealousy to continue, it will grow and spread like a cancer, rotting your relationship and your self-confidence.

And don't kid yourself -- getting married doesn't change a thing. Read Nancy Friday's book "Jealousy," and get a handle on ways to control the greens. A few sessions with a therapist wouldn't hurt, either. Nipped in the bud, the greens can be controlled. Given free rein, trouble follows.

Q: My boyfriend forgot my birthday -- said he was busy. He said he bought me a gift, but I never received it. When I went away on vacation, he didn't see me off. We used to talk about marriage but now he says I should marry someone who can cook. Could it be someone else? Should I dump him? I still care for him, but he won't talk to me about this and we've been fighting a lot.

A: Only foolish pride would make you dump him before he dumps you. The best thing would be a dialogue to explore what is going on here, but his refusal to talk is a clear signal that in his mind it's all over. So, be gracious and mature, and announce your decision to see other people. Watch his reaction carefully, and be prepared to call it quits mutually. That moment will be in your hands; only you can bring it off with dignity and poise.

Q: I was divorced 12 years ago, and during our eight-year marriage we had two children. I was physically and mentally abused by my husband. He threatened me into giving him custody of the children, and besides, I had no attorney of my own. I got no support from my family and friends, and I wasn't a fighter. I am now.

But I did have an advantage over the Mom from Phoenix, I had a good job and was capable of supporting my kids. I had visitation to see them every other weekend, but soon even that became a problem. When I went to pick them up, they would be somewhere else. My husband had witnesses say that I didn't show up.

I finally quit seeing the children; the harder I tried to see them, the harder it got to find them. I could not put myself through that pain anymore. I honestly think that the reason my husband made so difficult to see them is that he thought I'd come back so I could have my children.

Now I am remarried and my new husband and I have two children. My ex has still stalked me, tried to run me down, threatened to dismember me so that no one would recognize me. I do see my elder child now, finally after nine years. We see each other secretly, and I'd love to see the other one, but he tells everything, and his father must not know about it. I hope we can all be together someday.

It has taken a lot of praying and heartache for me to handle this situation. I feel that until my ex is dead, or maybe remarried, I'll always be looking over my shoulder. People just don't realize what goes on.

A: Against the odds you have reconstructed a life and remained in contact with one of your children. With an abusive and vengeful ex-husband fighting you every step of the way, what you have done is no small success. Still, it is sad for the children and for you not to be able to reunite in the open and enjoy a family life. The trauma has taught you to fight for your children, and in time they will understand all you have done for them. Gain sustenance from your new family and keep your faith. Society has no idea what noncustodial mothers endure.

Q: I have been seeing a man off and on for six years. We have canceled two weddings. We're back together again, but I don't think I'm interested anymore physically. I still love him, but as a friend and nothing more. What do I do?

A: Evidently you've lost respect for the man, a loss reflected in your lack of desire for him. Your body is acting out what your mind knows -- but cannot get across to you. Canceling two weddings is a sure sign of large doubt on both sides here, and it is time to call it quits.

Keeping your former fiance as a friend may take a bit of doing, if it can be done at all. His pride may be hurt, but on the other hand he probably senses your decision. Make it clear that you have decided to go your own way -- and there is no chance for another reconciliation. Tell him with compassion and kindness that the best thing for both of you is to live separate lives.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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