You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
I'm a non-smoker who met and began dating a man who smokes. After getting to know him better, I found that smoking was the least of his problems. Over the course of our relationship I discovered he had several family, health, financial and substance abuse problems too. I've walked him through overcoming some things during our year together, but others seem like they're never going to change. He allows his mother to manipulate his life, he's still smoking even though I've suffered through several sore throats from his second hand smoke, and I feel that the more I do for him the less he does for himself. When I try to discuss these issues with him he keeps asking me to be patient because he's newly clean and sober. At this point I'm completely fed up with his mother, family, friends and I’m feeling as though I'm doing everything for him and he's doing nothing to take care of himself. We are just one year into this relationship and I feel like I need to cut my losses and leave him to his family and get on with my life. He thinks I'm being impatient and need to give him more time to become the man I want, including a non-smoker. I gave him 6 months to stop smoking and that was a year ago. Am I wrong for wanting to leave for the sake of my health and sanity?
Sick and Tired (of being sick and tired!)
I clearly understand why you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Your boyfriend is a job and you are working overtime. You are playing the role of a case manager rather than a girlfriend. You have taken on a massive project without any pay or possible compensation. As a case manager, you are working with substance abuse, health issues, financial issues, dysfunctional family issues, dysfunctional relationships and a smoking cessation program. And, this is all within one year. I am tired just thinking about all of your job titles.
The problem is that this should not be a job and you are not the case manager. You are supposed to be the girlfriend in this relationship. Why are you trying to "fix" his life when he is not even working to better his own? You are even placing your health at risk with his smoking. You mentioned that the more you do for him, the less he does for himself. That does not surprise me at all. Why should he do anything or make any changes if you are doing it all? His comments about you being impatient are bull. After a year of dealing with his issues with little change, you are definitely not inpatient. People must want and be ready for change. He is neither ready nor wanting change at this time. Your efforts may be more about your desire to improve his life than his desire. I hear a lot of codependency on your part. In essence, you are taking care of others' needs at the expense of your own. I would suggest that you back off, cut your losses and move on. Get a life of your own that does not involve fixing someone else's. Your case management skills should be reserved and used when a real employer hires you. Okay? -- Dr. Sherry
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