Toxic Relationship Requires Restraining Order

Amy Dickinson
August 15, 2011

Dear Amy: I’ve been dating a man since last year. We are in our 60s and live in an upscale golfing community.

Our relationship has been full of ups and downs. For instance, I found out that he was living with a woman during the time we were dating. He introduced me to her as “a friend of mine.”

I confronted them: “Friend?! I’m his lover!” I said. She moved out two weeks later.

I broke it off after more drama, but he kept calling and texting me. When I told him I would get a restraining order, he stopped.

Then I offered to take him out for his birthday and we started seeing each other again.

Last week he got angry and started yelling at me. I went to his place, retrieved my things and took his cellphone. He came over to my home, banged on my garage door and attempted to pry it open. He pounded on my front door that night and the next day.

I know I was wrong to take his phone and planned on inviting him in for coffee in the morning when he came over, but then I felt frightened.

He went to the police and said he was going to file charges. He said he would send copies of police charges to my boss, co-workers and friends.

Then I talked to the police and he ended up being arrested on criminal charges that include domestic violence. I have a protection order against him.

I felt bad about it, so yesterday I brought some groceries to him at his house.

I’m not willing to drop the order of protection, so now he’ll probably date other women. I’m not happy about that because I still want to be with him.

I fear that he will get better as he goes through the court-ordered counseling. Then he’ll be good to another woman and I’ll miss out on what could be a good relationship!

And what about me? I may never find someone else!

— Struggling

Dear Struggling: If you have an order of protection against this person, then what on earth are you doing bringing him groceries? Are you daring him to violate this order by having contact with you?

You two are locked into a dangerous dance. And you are using the police to threaten and punish each other.

Grow up. Leave this man alone. And make sure he leaves you alone.

He may receive court-ordered counseling, but you need therapy every bit as much as he does.

Rest assured, at this stage of life it is unlikely that therapy will polish him into a wonderful and faithful character. However, therapy may help you to steer clear of this person and this pattern in the future. I highly recommend it — for you.