Partner's public put-downs aren't funny

Dear Amy: My partner and I just returned home from a cocktail party.

For the most part, the evening was relaxed and fun -- except for one thing. My partner seems to think that making fun of me in front of his friends is funny. It might be fun for him and whoever is listening at the moment, but sitting there being belittled in a room full of people is humiliating.

We've been together for five years, and our relationship is 85 percent great, but his making fun of me at my expense angers me to no end.

I've asked him on numerous occasions to cut it out. We've argued about it.

I never see other partners putting down their mates at parties the way he does with me. We've talked about this issue in couples counseling, and he still does it.

How can I make him stop?!

I love the man dearly, but he angers me so much over this that I want nothing to do with him.

How do I make him understand his lack of respect is destroying our relationship and my love for him?


Amy says: I'm going to assume that this is more than affectionate teasing from your partner. If you are the object of humiliating public putdowns, perhaps you are trying too hard to make him be sensitive to you when what he really needs is to be smacked with a 2-by-4 (figuratively, of course).

He might need to face some actual, concrete consequences for his behavior so he can draw a straight line from his putdowns to a definitive action by you.

You might try this out the next time you discuss this in counseling: "Honey, I've discussed this with you and asked you nicely and repeatedly to stop trashing me for sport, so let's try this -- the next time you belittle me in public, I'm leaving the gathering. After that, I might leave you -- I haven't made up my mind yet."

Then, of course, you have to make good on your statement. It might make you seem humorless to the gang, but if you've already been publicly humiliated, you might as well go for broke.

Your guy can take a counseling session or two to examine why he is so disrespectful to you in public. But, in the meantime, his behavior needs to change.

Affair was unfair to all

Dear Amy: I worked at a popular bar several years back, and "Barbara" came in several times.

I knew she was married, but I asked her out for a drink anyway.

On the way home that night, she made it very clear that all she wanted from me was sex a couple of times a month and maybe to go out to dinner or for a few drinks.

I was fine with it -- I didn't think I needed to be involved emotionally with anyone at that point.

After a couple of months, our emotions took over and we fell in love. It was very difficult for me not to be able to be with her in public. After 3 1/2 years, she left me, almost without warning. I was absolutely devastated.

Then, after my sister passed away, I had an epiphany: Nothing is more important than family.

I swore to myself that I would never date a married, or otherwise involved, woman again. It's not worth the emotional turmoil it causes.

Sadder But Wiser

Amy says: Understandably, you have highlighted the devastating effect this affair had on you. I need to add that when someone chooses to be involved with a married person, the devastation extends to that person's family. As you rightly point out, nothing is more important than family.

Ask Amy runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

Dear Amy: Regarding the issue of gum chewing and how much it bothers other people, I can still hear my mother's voice: "Ladies do not chew gum in public." Mom was born in 1914, but her advice made a great impression on her "girls."

I cannot bring myself to chew gum when I am with other people.

Of course my father still thinks that one does not eat in public. Fortunately for him, he doesn't get out much anymore at age 93.

Carroll in Chicago

Amy says: Thank you for passing along your mother's wisdom. Let's update it to include "gentlemen," too.

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