I’m a junior at Barnard College in NYC. I’ll get my Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Art History. I came in to school with as many Advanced Placement credits as I could get in my hometown of Mill Valley, CA. I’ll finish in three years instead of four but I’m under pressure from my parentals to get my “MRS” degree before graduation. And before I “expire” according to my Mom. So there’s this guy Alex who’s perfect — tall, smart, rich, athletic, related to J.P. Morgan. We’ve been hooking up for a year and just became exclusive. So since I’m a dark-haired, designer-clothed Cuban from Miami my Mom is insisting I transform myself into a New England preppie “to seal the deal.”

-Yolanda C.

My boyfriend Manuel and I met working at Job Corps.  I had just come back from my second tour with the National Guard in Iraq; he had just finished a bid in juvie.  Way I see it, we were both starting over.  He wants babies, I wanna get married.  We’re both Catholic so that’s the dance.  But where I can be mouthy, he likes to get handy as in back-handy if the mood strikes him.  It’s rare but I ain’t gonna lie — it happens. Now Manuel’s Papito is the same way with his Mamacita but that don’t make it right.  And you should hear how Manuel talks back to his Mama. We’ve had heated fights about how it’ll go if we stay together but now he’s hard to find nights and weekends.  He’s punishing me.  It’s been 18 months we’ve been together.  Now he’s short with me, cold but relentlessly sexual.  He’s actively trying to get me pregnant.  So what do you make of that?  And what should I do about it?

-Eileen K.


“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
– Maya Angelou

Your gut is telling you there’s a difference between what you want and what you are getting.


Trust your instincts — they’re there to protect you. Use all the information you’re getting from your relationship: the talking, the loving, the contradictions and the bad that goes with the good.

But here’s some ideas to help you review your situation:

1. Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship.

Are you a spy on an undercover mission?  If not, there can’t be longterm value in going deep cover to win a guy.  The true you will emerge eventually just in time for a breakup or divorce court.

2. Don’t look for someone to complete you.

A partial person can’t form a solid, healthy relationship.  If you’re too young or just not done becoming who you are, you’re not ready to commit. If you’re ready, look for someone who compliments you, not supplementary crutch.

3. If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn’t want you, nothing can make him stay.

A lover votes with their feet.  What does your guys feet tell you?  Be honest.

4. If you want to have a clue as to how he will treat you, watch how he treats his Mom.

It’s cliche but the template most people have about relationships comes from their parents, step-parents, guardians, what-have-you.  Pay very close attention to his Mom’s role and treatment in his family home.

5. Don’t think it will get better.

Especially if you’re dealing with verbal or physical abuse, it may be okay for a while but the fundamental behavior is right there waiting to surface.

6. Don’t fall for the “I’m confused role.”

This is the original “buying time” routine.  Keep him on your radar but take a break and see other people.  He may never figure it out.  But at least you won’t waste valuable time a wishin’ and a hopin.’

7. Don’t date anyone dumber, shorter or poorer than you are.

This is a rough piece of old-school wisdom.  Sometimes a man’s passive-aggressive hostility is about his insecurity and jealousy over who you are.  It’s worth thinking about.

8. Sometimes when you give up on someone, it’s not because you don’t care anymore but because he doesn’t.

It sucks to let a loved one go but if he doesn’t love you the way you need to be loved, what’s the point?



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