Ask Amy: Mom’s martyrdom creates a man-boy monster

Amy Dickinson
Tribune News Service

Dear Amy: My live-in boyfriend of four years is selfish, defiant, impatient and impossible to talk to.

He instantly puts up his guard, starts yelling and deflecting!

I always end up giving up before he rages and confuses me by turning every conversation around.

I love him so much. I know he loves me too. But sometimes, I need him to grow up.

I have a 15-year-old son. I had my son when I was 22. I was forced to grow up fast.

My boyfriend has never lived with a girlfriend before and doesn’t have children.

But I’m a mother and a nurturer. I love taking care of “my Boys,” but it is never, ever reciprocated. He can’t do anything for himself. I am expected to do everything! He works from home, and usually starts drinking at around noon. He averages around 15 beers a day.

I have been sober for one year. Talking to him in the evening is out of the question. He is a complete jerk when he has been drinking.

How do I talk to him about his selfishness?

My good feelings toward him are starting to change.

I have pulled away and stopped “spoiling” him like I used too.

Please, how do we fix this? How do I tell him, “You’re self-absorbed and impatient. You never think of anyone but yourself. You don’t do anything for anyone.” — Feeling Different

Dear Different: Talk is cheap, and impossible if the person you are trying to reason with is drunk and belligerent.

What you see as your own nurturing behavior, I see as enabling.

There is a distinction between “taking care of my boys” and actually promoting your alcoholic partner’s selfish behavior. You are doing the latter.

You have helped to create a monster and now you want the monster to stop being a monster, even though he is simply behaving according to what he has been taught.

I think it might clarify your next move if you examined, recognized, and held yourself accountable for your role in this household dynamic.

Kids look to the members of their own household for models of how to be. What man does your son have as a role model? That drunken guy on the couch.

If things don’t change radically, your teenage son might be on his way to becoming the same type of hard-drinking man-boy that your partner is.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the effect that this chaos could have on your own sobriety.

You need to nurture yourself. This can be challenging if you mainly view your worth through your martyrdom to others.

Attend sobriety-support meetings. Seek perspective from your own circle of loved ones, and listen carefully to what they tell you.

Understand that you will not change your partner, but you can definitely change yourself.

Dear Amy: I am an old man who has acquired many firearms during my life.

It’s the right time to get rid of many of my possessions and I’m conflicted as to whether I should sell these firearms or simply have them destroyed.

On one hand, I could use the money. On the other, I don’t want any harm done by whoever ends up with these items. Advice, please? — Looking to Unload

Dear Looking: I applaud both your choice and your concern about your firearms collection.

You should sell these firearms AND have them destroyed through a gun buyback program.

Do some research online and by calling your local police department to see if there is a buyback event happening soon near where you live.

Buyback programs purchase firearms from individuals and then destroy the firearms purchased.

A relatively new organization, Gun By Gun (gunxgun.org), aims to take more guns out of circulation through gun buybacks. The organization accepts financial donations from the public and then uses this money to sponsor gun buyback events, working with law enforcement and gun ranges to ensure the guns are properly destroyed.

Dear Amy: “Distressed” wrote to you about a relative who was coming to her for loans in increasing amounts. The relative asked that the loans be kept a secret from her mother.

Your advice was great, but I want to suggest that this relative might have a gambling problem.

This happened in our family. By the time we realized what was going on, the relative had cleaned out several different family members, always swearing people to secrecy. — Been There

Dear Been There: Asking a loan to be kept a secret is definitely cause for alarm.