DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm angry because my brother-in-law -- the big fat louse -- gets drunk and decks my sister. She hits him quite freely too, and once nailed him with a frying pan. I told her, "Good thing it was light or he might have died." She said, "He's too tough to die. Anyways, I love him, so shut up!" Love him? What's to love? He's been giving her hell since she married him 18 years ago. I asked her to leave him before she really gets hurt permanently, and she said, "Why would I leave him? I love that idiot and he loves me." I just hate listening to their crap and she's always talking about it! It gives me a headache. But, I love my sister a lot, as she is my only sister. What can I do to make her see the light? -- Younger Sister, Downtown
Dear Sister: She is the drama queen, and he is the drama king. They thrive on this soap opera life. But it becomes your business every time she complains and you have to hear it. There's the line you must draw in the sand now. Tell her this: "Every time you complain to me about the abuse you get from your husband and every time I hear about how you abuse him, I am deeply disturbed for a long time afterwards thinking about it and worrying about you. From now on, please don't talk to me about him, unless you are ready to leave this situation or need my help in some way." You will hear less from her, and she will try "change back" ploys so that she can get her rewards back -- which are: complaining about what she puts up with and getting sympathy; reliving the drama like a stage play and seeing your shock; and being the star of the show -- every conversation centres around her life. It is much safer to call her on the phone after your talk and when she drifts onto her latest fight, make an excuse that you have to say goodbye. Say bye-bye and quickly hang up before she protests. Then leave her alone for a few days. You're training her. You may become less than her best friend as she quickly seeks out another person to play your role. That's OK. Be happy and invest in your own life. Look for new friends and a new partner if you don't have one already.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I love my five cats and they love me. I also have one old dog who is almost ready to depart this world. By the way, I'm happily divorced. I quickly found out the guy I've been dating doesn't care for cats and dogs and he says he won't come to my place. That means I always go to his house, which is antiseptic. He shows no curiosity or interest in ever seeing my place and it doesn't make a difference if I keep my animals or not. I know he is having sex with me, but do you think he loves me? When I ask him, he says, "What do you think?" Please help. -- Cat Lady, Wolseley
Dear Cat Lady: The animals are mighty convenient. As long as you have them, he doesn't have to worry about your wanting to marry him. He gets a drop-in sex buddy who admires him and he doesn't have to move an inch. When sex is over, you drive home in the cold. He's calling the shots and you look pitiful when you ask him if he loves you. The only way casual sex works for any length of time is if the two people have the same detached attitude toward each other emotionally and it's kind of like going to the gym. In your case, you want him to say he loves you -- but how do you really feel? Are you mistaking love for relief of boredom and/or loneliness? He doesn't sound like the right guy for you. An unfussy animal lover who loves you dearly would be so much better.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6