It’s been exactly one year, since I began writing the “Ask Beatty” column for Dan’s Papers and I want to thank you for your feedback and interest.
Many of you have taken the courageous step to contact me directly with your questions and concerns. I’ve received over 100 emails from readers of all ages and stages in life, who have asked my advice on a wide variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, early childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual problems, substance abuse, coming out, extra-marital affairs, divorce, estrangement, the challenges of aging, retirement, dating, second marriages, parenting and step-parenting.
I tried to answer as many of the emails as I could. Naturally, only a few could appear in the column. I do hope that my advice and encouragement have made, and will continue to make, a positive difference in your lives.
We all go through lots of ups and downs in life. No one is immune to life’s challenges, hurts and disappointments. Please remember that we don’t need to take this journey alone. Give yourself permission to reach out to loving and compassionate friends, family and, if need be, qualified professionals.
These people can help to make our struggles easier, less isolating and lonely. It’s a strength, not a weakness, when we realize that we may need outside help to get our life back on an even keel. If you’ve been following the recent U.S. Open, just look at the professional tennis players and their teams consisting of coaches, trainers and sports psychologists who together try to ensure success both on and off the court.
I especially want to thank Editor Tim Bolger for his trust in me and his understanding of how a column on relationships and mental health can benefit readers.
I am a 35-year-old, divorced, single parent to a 10-year-old little girl. I’m a highly successful realtor in a prestigious international real estate company in the Hamptons.
I met Mike, 52, at a Hamptons fundraiser about eight months ago. We really seemed to click. He had been divorced many years ago and had ended a long-term relationship just before we met. He told me that he was ready for a new chapter in his life. Although we officially haven’t moved in together, I do spend part of the week at his home when my daughter is visiting her father.
Initially, everything was incredible. We talked and laughed and seemed to have lots of things in common. However, recently, the ups and downs are making me think about ending the relationship. I know that Mike has a lot of pressures at work. He is the vice president of a major financial institution. During the week he is often withdrawn, silent and frequently just plain mean. I try to be understanding.
However, no matter what I do or say, he barely acknowledges me. When I try to talk with him, his reaction often is to explode in anger, denying that anything is wrong and demanding to know why I pick on him. I’ve also noticed he is drinking more and sleeping less. His irritability and mood swings are becoming almost impossible to deal with. This is a typical work week.
Nothing I do or say seems to work. On weekends he is a completely different person. He’s fun, romantic and caring and our sex life is great. But when Monday rolls around, the same depressing scene repeats itself until the next weekend. Do you think he may be bipolar? I love him but his moods are driving me crazy.
– Angel K., East Hampton
It’s certainly difficult to be living on the roller-coaster ride that you describe. And clearly, the downs are understandably, becoming increasingly unbearable. My question to you is how much longer are you willing to be Mike’s whipping girl? Have you told him directly how hurt, angry and disappointed you are because of how he treats you? The importance of communicating your feelings — the good, the bad and the ugly — is the first step in trying to see whether Mike cares enough about you to really hear what you’re saying.
More importantly, is he willing to acknowledge, address and try to resolve the issues that are getting in the way of his life, your life and your relationship? He may be so overwhelmed by pressures at work that he’s not fully aware of how badly he’s treating you. However, this is an untenable, toxic, no-win situation for you at the moment.
As to whether he is bipolar, he would need to be clinically assessed in order to make a definitive diagnosis. The ball is really in your court, Angel. What are you going to do? You have two options. The first is to do nothing and continue to be beaten up emotionally. The second is to let Mike know that you will no longer allow him to hurt you and that unless things change, you will end the relationship.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, author of For Better for Worse Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, national speaker, national radio and television expert guest and host of the weekly “Ask Beatty Show” on the Progressive Radio Network. She has a private practice in NYC and East Hampton.