DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I have a boyfriend with a big heart and small wallet. He's very expansive in expressions of love for me and will do anything for me except open his damn wallet. Except for our first coffee date, he has always suggested we "go Dutch on this one." Dutch people don't even "go Dutch." Ridiculous! I should know because I'm Dutch. The reason I stick around is he makes me feel so good with all his praise and affection and lovemaking. How do I get him to stop being so cheap? He brings coupons to every restaurant and it just drives me crazy. I won't even go grocery shopping with him anymore because he finds ways to make me pay for stuff for HIS cupboards. He'll say, "You like this brand of peanut butter, so it'll be in my cupboard for you." Riiight. It's all gone by the time I get over there. He always asks me to "pick up the tickets," but he never pays for his ticket for the concert. Should I give him up? Is it true, "once a cheapskate, always a cheapskate?" -- Frustrated With Skinflint, Osborne Village
Dear Frustrated: Change him? Good luck. He is who he is, and the only match for him is another silver-tongued cheapskate. Look, his personality is already starting wear on you. It will get worse quickly and you will soon be able to give up the ego-building and "I love yous." Want to hurry up that turn-off process? Notice when the man is buttering you up to get something -- instead of letting your head swell up. Next time he's rhapsodizing about how beautiful you are, watch to see how many minutes later he starts chiselling you. Praise is annoying once it's revealed as insincere and manipulative.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: In response to correspondence from a female who signed Boyfriend Has Issues. I, too, was in a relationship where there was screaming, anger and sometimes physical expression by throwing anything at hand. It became unbearable and left me feeling powerless and frustrated. Even his mother would suggest that the behaviour was not normal and used to describe the episodes as "when his eyes turn black." I did leave the marriage after 23 years but it took years for me to get over feeling victimized and abused. I'd like to refer your reader to a recent Dr. Phil TV show. Apparently there is evidence to suggest there is a gene on some people's DNA that accounts for rage, often unprovoked and seemingly about trivial things. Since most people don't have Dr. Phil's resources for testing, I don't know that this will be of much help. But, there might be an explanation for the behaviours of some people. -- Tip For You, Winnipeg
Dear Tip For You: Thanks for writing. I'm aware of this show and the research, but it's really important to note that the "warrior gene" or genetic hair-trigger for anger and violence is not an excuse for screaming, swearing and/or physical violence. It doesn't excuse road rage or blow-ups at work or in restaurants. Ditto for screaming at kids and spouses. Knowing one has the predisposition may one day become a red flag to getting therapy early. People can also be taught to control the anxiety that adds fuel to the fire with breathing and relaxation techniques. By the way, extreme shyness has shown to be a gene, and shy people can overcome much of their timidity with therapy and experiments in socializing.
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