Dear Concerned Caregiver,

Thank you for being brave enough to reach out to Dear Ally.  Seeking out help is never easy, but it gets simpler once you actually ask for it.  Congratulations on accomplishing the first step.

“D” sounds like he is conniving at times, but judging from your editorial, I think he can be tamed.  It will require you to put in hours of work every day, and some days no matter what you do he will not listen.  I would never recommend that someone stay in an abusive relationship unless serious counseling and professional help is sought, and even then it can be a tricky situation.  But your relationship with D doesn’t quite fall into the abusive category.  It seems that he is intertwined with your life, and this does not have to be in a hurtful manner.  You are not D, and D is not you; but you are an essential part of one another.  I mean, 20+ years together!  You can’t simply throw in the towel now.

Some days D will ruin your mood, and that is okay.  This is part of being human, and no one should make you feel badly about it.  The people who offer corny advice are not worth the frustration.  They may have suffered in other areas of their lives, but this is a topic that they may never understand if they are belittling you during your difficult days.  Do your best to enlighten them, but do not get hung up on them.  Focus on you and D and what you need to do to create a more open relationship.  Take care of yourself first and foremost- emotionally, physically, intellectually, socially.  Once you are revived, you will be able to offer D more of what he needs.  And he, in turn, may start to treat you better.  Every relationship has its peaks and valleys, and yours will be no different.

Keep the faith.  Hold your head high.  You are trying your best.  One day D will mature and comprehend everything you have done for him.  For now, when he stubbornly wreaks havoc on your day, try your best to remember the other people in long-term relationships with D’s of their own.  These people are survivors, fighters, dreamers, advocates, friends, coworkers, cousins, and so on.  They mean something to the people who love them, whether D is involved or not.  Listen to them.  Soak up their advice, their lighthearted takes on subjects like D that others do not understand.  Be strong for each other and you will all be okay.

Best of luck,

Ally

Dear Ally,

I hope you read my editorial.  You see, I have this boyfriend- let’s call him “D” for short.  We have been together for over two decades now.  You’d  think he would have proposed already, but in his usual fashion D always takes me on an emotional rollercoaster.  There are lots of highs and lots of lows.  Some days are okay, and those are the days where I think D isn’t so bad.  I mean, he loves me!  I swear he does!  People always look at us on the street together.  We have all the fanciest technology and we sport it around town wherever we go.  Some people stop me and say that they’re proud of us, of the relationship that we’ve built.  It’s not easy, they say.  But they don’t really know the reality of living with D.

D keeps me up at night a lot.  He is loud and needy and incessantly wants to eat.  In some ways it’s like tending to a child.  And then I have to go to work the next day, and then go to graduate class after work, and society tells me that I should not complain.  “D is not THAT bad.  There are always worse boyfriends to have.  Plus, my grandma dated a guy like D- haha D type 2!- and she just took a few pills to get over him.”  They don’t see that D makes me cry sometimes.  He can be a jerk, and he always acts up whenever something important is happening.  On the good days, he makes me laugh, though.  And I have found other people who also date D’s, and they have made me feel like we can do this.  They are strong people.  They are funny people.  They know exactly what to say to make me feel better about D.

What can I do to improve my relationship with D?  I am not ready to give up hope that we can work things out yet.

Sincerely,

Concerned Caregiver