My boyfriend Carlos and I live together and worship together at the same kung-fu school in Chinatown.  Our Sifu Li is part Chinese and the son of an American soldier and a Chinese prostitute.  Sifu Li is our Master and we obey his direction in eating, living and workshipping traditional Chinese gods like Kuan Kung and Kwan Yin.  I love Carlos but lately he’s been allowing our Sifu to deal him drugs (marijuana, meth and crack).  Plus he’s smoking with Sifu Li.  Now I don’t know how drug use fits in with Buddhist spirituality but I am not wanting to build a future with a junkie.  We’ve been dating for four years and if he’s not gonna put a ring on it should I try to help Carlos or just leave him with Sifu and his pipe?

-Marisol N.

I have been dating Casey for three months and he’s a great guy.  We’re both Lutheran, never married, working, good credit and have no kids.  Casey would love to have kids and he’d be a great Dad.  He’s less enthusiastic about getting married.  Should I work with him on his marriage reluctance or just call foul and walk away?

-Shonte C.


Your man gives you love, attention, affection and great sex.  He’s a highly functioning dude.  And yet just below the glittering surface image is addiction, degraded family values and the attitude that you just have to suck up the bad with the good.

What to do is an individual decision based on your priorities, values and needs.  Certainly, you don’t want to end up in the hospital, family court or jail because your honey has some bad ideas.  “I told you so” are hard words to hear after you’ve made risky choices.


Here’s some wise guidelines to help you think about making your grown-woman decision to keep or leave your man:

8. If you have doubt your man’s character, leave him.

Especially in light of the Sandusky and Fine scandal, wifeys shoulda been gone.

9. If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you right, don’t cling to him  as a “friend.”  That’s no friend for you.

10. Always put yourself and your happiness first.

11. Respect your boundaries when it comes to how a guy treats you. If something bothers you, speak up. If it doesn’t stop, drop him.

12. Dating can turn into engagement and marriage.  Or not.  Know when it’s time to cut the cord.  Don’t waste time being strung along.

13. Actions speak louder than words.

14. Never let a man define who you are or your relationship with him. Be active, assertive and powerful.

15. Just because he says he loves you, that doesn’t mean that he won’t hurt you.  “I love you” doesn’t mean that you are meant to stay with him.

16. You deserve to be the #1 person in the life of the #1 person in your life.

17. Love is a verb. Every day.

18. Give up your lifelong task of trying to make someone unavailable-available, someone ungiving-giving, and someone unloving-loving.

19. A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.

20. It takes half the length of a relationship to get over it. Take time to heal between relationships. Deal with your issues and leave them behind before pursuing a new relationship.



The moment I knew it was over was when my husband told me his favorite musical in the whole world was “Phantom of the Opera.” I had just performed in a production of “Phantom of the Opera” that he hadn’t bothered coming to see.

-Barbara J.

So my boyfriend Mitch asked me to marry him and I am considering it.  But he’s the constant criticizer of women’s looks.  This one woman is too fat for that outfit, that coed has “cankles,”  that lady has too high an opinion of her looks and shouldn’t try to dress young. No matter the beauty, achievement or irrelevancy to his existence, Mitch is hardwired to attack women’s looks. His repeat joke is, “Why are all this nickels acting like dimes?”  Meaning, why do women he rates as a “5” acting like “10”s?  Oh, and I’m a prime target, too.  Interspersed between “I love you” and “I’m so happy with you” are the smart remarks.  His new riff is:”Once your looks go, what’ll you have?  You’re lucky I really love you.” Today, it was, “I’m so glad my babydoll doesn’t have a line on her face. At least, not now.”  This from a man who is 5’9″ and looks like he swallowed a basketball.

-Isabel R.


The subtle neglect.  Routinely overlooking your need for acknowledgement. The constant critical gaze.   The bottomless fountain of insult.  The one-way magnifying glass.

Let’s be clear: this is not an accident and it is not benign.  Your loved one puts these negative ideas and actions in motion to hurt you and destabilize your confidence. He wants to worry you?  De-valuing you gives him power.

Why?  Your paranoia and lowered self-esteem increases your need for him.

De-valuing is a key weapon in the arsenal of an Emotional Abuser.  It may not be 100% of the relationship 100% of the time but it’s there to gnaw away at your psyche.

In an emotionally abusive relationship, your lover systematically tries to control you by:

1. Undermining your confidence, worthiness, growth, or trust
2. Manipulating you with shame or fear.

Idealize.  De-value.  Reject.

What attracted them at first is now devalued like a child taking a toy away from another child.  You the abused are then supposed to work to restore the previous value or feel you have disappointed your loved one. It is just another mind control game.


Talk to your loved one about how his/ her words impact you.  You may get the runaround.

Next, look around at the bookstore for helpful texts on the matter for you.  See if you loved one will read for the sake of your relationship.

You can always rebutt each individual comment or hurtful action.  But you don’t want to amp up conflict — just defuse a hurtful dynamic.

Your lover may not even be conscious of de-valuing you — it may be what s/he grew up with as normal.

Make a good effort to raise their consciousness.  But protect yourself first and foremost.

And move on if you deem it the only solution to root out this soul-clawing dynamic.



Todd is a supremely good dude.  His Mom died leaving him heartbroken, much more so that the death of his father.  Todd was born with a congenital heart disease that could be fatal.  So he is dually apprehensive about getting deeply involved, married or having kids.  But it’s clear what a loving, caring man he has become – he really cares about what his loved ones eat, their physical safety, and he’s got those old world manners and chivalry.  And what I have to say to Todd and about Todd is that I understand.  It’s really rare and beautiful that a man can know himself and acknowledge his limitations with such clarity.  And it’s a damn shame such a good man is sorta going to waste.

-Rachel S.

My buddy Kevin got married at 25 to a recovering addict named Leah.  Young, rocks the urban garb, but quite frankly half in & half out of the closet. Kevin and wifey live in Jamaica, Queens and quickly had three lovely daughters.  Unfortunately, Kevin is really gay.  He’s a former banjee boy who functions as a bisexual.  He really is terribly promiscuous with women – of all ages, creeds and national origins.  He’s like a butterfly, touching down on many flowers but not really getting into even a sustained affair.  When his wife Leah invited everyone in his phone to his birthday party, a couple of Kevin’s jumpoffs showed up. Leah grew up in Hell’s Kitchen  so earrings were removed and the ladies got to scrapping.  In the aftermath, Kevin and Leah worked it out.  He claims those women meant nothing to him, just temporary hookups. But if you hang out with Kevin and watch where his eyes wander.  And if you listen without judging, you recognize a man who sought the cultural respect for being husband & father and even stereotypical “dog” as a cloak for his actual desires.  His actual desires are no tame “I like to look but never touch” protocol.  He is a doyenne of the gay brothel, O.G. of the gymnasium steam room and expert cruiser of the schools his daughters attend.  He wasn’t ready for marriage to a woman.  And probably never will be.  But his longest term friendships and romantic liasons remain with men.  Plus given all the drama with wifey, he explains he just wanted light-skinned daughters with good hair.  And, he brags, if wifey wants to divorce him, there’s no way a woman struggling with past addictions will get primary custody. Wow.  Just wow.

-Petra K.


For good and bad reasons, some men aren’t ready to settle down.  Dating and hanging out are good ways to gauge what a man’s actual desires are.  But it’s tough to distinguish caretaking behaviors from romantic love.  It’s even harder to discern a man wanting to be a father from wanting to be a sincere husband.

Infidelity takes a myriad of forms – from sex surrogates, to ego boosts to actually striving to replace the old wife with a new one. And the full range of human sexuality demands we open our eyes and be honest about what is possible and who we are with.  Not to judge, but to inform our next steps.

Under the best circumstances, your loved one will tell you in words and actions what’s going on.  But mixed signals are the sad reality for most of us.


If a man (or a loved one of any gender identity) isn’t ready for marriage, we can force them and hope for the best.  Often, their true colors and desires bleed through the pristine fabric of a marriage or any similar committed relationship.  Or we can wish our lover well and walk away.

The choice is yours.



“When we walked into a big gala fundraiser party at Chelsea Piers wearing matching tuxedos, he said, ‘Just remember – we’re not here as a couple.'”

-Todd H.

“We had been seeing each other for 2 years and his only brother was getting married in 2 months.  He informed me I would not be his date for the wedding.”

-Jenna C.


You’ve been purposefully led down a path to believe you are together in some meaningful way.  But while some actions say “yes,” significant “no” incidents keep cropping up.


You should speak to your honey in clear terms about your expectations and how s/he has disappointed you.  Try to keep calm and talk about feeling humiliated rather than being hysterical about it. Use your words and your ears.  There is opportunity to clarify and improve things.  But if you’re not happy with the result, walking away is worth considering.