Dr. Gilda Carle
Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
This single dad wonders which decision he might regret more: getting a tattoo of his girlfriend's name to appease her — or refusing, and letting her walk out of his life. Here's my take on it.
Dear Dr. Gilda,
I have been in an eight-year relationship and it is verbally abusive. I am a single dad with two kids. In front of my kids, she calls me "stupid" and "idiot." Now she tells me if I don't get a tattoo with her name on it, she will leave me and move out. I know I shouldn't get the tattoo, but I know I will miss her if she leaves. Please help me!
– Unhappy, But...
What's the "But..." about in your sign-off? Is it that you're "Unhappy," but not unhappy enough to leave? Is it that you're "Unhappy," but not unhappy enough to be alone? Is it that you're "Unhappy," but not unhappy enough to tell your girlfriend that her name-calling, particularly in front of your kids, is off limits? This is how life works: We only remain in relationships in which we're deriving rewards. Every one of our life experiences provides us with a payoff of some kind. Sometimes these payoffs are pleasurable, and sometimes they're painful. Overall, people stay in painful situations because they fear being in a situation without any payoffs at all. This is probably what you're experiencing now.
Your girlfriend doesn't treat you well and now she's trying to bully you into getting a tattoo inscribed with her name, which you say you don't want. This tattoo may be her way of branding you as her property. So what's the payoff for you? See if any of these possibilities ring true:
1. You grew up in a household where your mom or another female figure was bossy, domineering, and abusive in some way, so the relationship you're in now feels like "home."
2. You learned that being without a love interest makes you feel lonely, so you've decided to settle for a bad relationship instead of having no love at all.
3. You've gotten so accustomed to having this woman around that she's become like an old shoe that's already broken in. You fear . . .
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DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is the internationally known Relationship Expert to the Stars. She is Match.com’s “ASK DR. GILDA” advice columnist. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” NOW IN ITS SECOND EDITION, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. DR. GILDA is the Love Doc advisor for the off-Broadway show, “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage!” She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit www.DrGilda.com and get her Instant Advice!